Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly has welcomed the appointment of Professor Mick Dodson as the Northern Territory‘s treaty commissioner and invited him to the CLC’s council meeting near Uluru in early April.
Today’s announcement clears the way for consultations with Aboriginal Territorians to find out if they want a treaty or multiple treaties with the NT government.
“I can’t think of a better listener and advocate for our people than Mick Dodson,” Mr Kelly said.
“The Barunga Agreement our four land councils negotiated with the government will be his roadmap for the consultations.”
“When we signed the agreement, last June at Barunga, we said we only bounced the ball,” he said.
“Now it’s time for all Aboriginal people to run with the ball and have their say about treaty.”
In negotiating the agreement the land councils made sure that the treaty commissioner role is independent and adequately resourced to consult widely.
“I have no doubt that Mick’s report to the NT government will reflect the informed views of the Territory’s Aboriginal peoples on this complex issue,” said CLC chief executive Joe Martin –Jard.
“We will hold the government to its commitment to give him the time and resources he needs,” Mr Martin-Jard said.
He said the grass roots deliberations leading up to the Uluru Statement were a good model for informed decision making around a complex set of questions.
The Barunga Agreement, which was negotiated in the first half of 2018, sets out the principles for progressing a treaty or treaties in the NT.
“The agreement was the result of much hard work on behalf of the CLC and the other land councils,” Mr Martin-Jard said.
“When you consider that these processes in other jurisdictions have taken years this was a significant achievement.”
When the land councils took the initiative and wrote to the government about a treaty they always intended to throw the process wide open.
“We have maintained throughout that it is not up to the land councils alone to negotiate with the government, but a matter for all Aboriginal people in the NT”, Mr Martin-Jard said.
“Every Aboriginal person and community must now get the chance inform themselves and put forward their views on whether or not they want a treaty and, if so, what should be covered.”
The Barunga Agreement is here