CFMEU members pledge support for First Nations “Voice to Parliament” following Turnbull Government rejection

Published: 10 Nov 2017

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has pledged its full support to efforts by Indigenous Australians to seek the creation of a constitutionally-enshrined representative body providing a direct parliamentary voice for First Nations people.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said members of the union were appalled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to reject outright the recommendation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to create a constitutional voice for First Nations people.

“We are shocked and appalled by the extraordinary lack of leadership shown by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with his off-hand rejection of the legitimate aspirations of First Nation Australians,” Mr O’Connor said.

“This Government’s preference for tokenism over self-determination is heartbreaking not only for First Nations peoples, but for all Australians.”

“Despite overwhelming international evidence that health, education, employment and social outcomes for First Nations people are vastly improved when those communities have direct political input, Mr Turnbull has once again decided to put the fringe views of the extreme elements of his party ahead of good policy.

“Mr Turnbull’s flimsy claim that his view is justified because a representative body of First Nation Australians would subvert the Parliament of Australia is simply not supported by the facts.

“Instead, the Prime Minister wants to continue the devastating, costly, and ineffective approach of having governments impose their will on Indigenous people.”

Mr O’Connor slammed the fact that the Prime Minister had found $122 million to hold a postal survey on same sex marriage yet claimed there was no need for a referendum on the creation of an Indigenous representative body because he already knew the views of Australians.

“Despite countless opinion polls revealing most Australians supported same sex marriage, Malcolm Turnbull demanded a costly postal survey, yet when a serious proposal is put forward by the Indigenous people of this nation he has the staggering arrogance to reject it out of hand,” he said.

“The CFMEU fully endorses the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including the key recommendation for an assembly of First Nations people, and we will be supporting the efforts of First Nations people to have this vital reform taken to a referendum.

“Our union not only has a large number of Indigenous members, but we have a long and proud history of supporting the struggles of First Nation Australians for justice and constitutional recognition.

“We will not waver in our support for our Indigenous members and for all First Nation Australians, including their campaign to have political representation guaranteed by the constitution.”