• Publication Date: December 7, 2016
  • EAN: 9781760020781
  • 304 pages; 6" x 8⅝"

Constitutional Recognition of First Peoples in Australia

Theories and Comparative Perspectives


Product Description

Darryl McCarthy (a Mardigan man from South West Queensland)Women’s Business Reproduced with permission of the artist © Darryl McCarthy_______________________________________

This collection of essays explores the history and current status of proposals to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution of Australia. The book had its genesis in a colloquium co-hosted by the University of Southern Queensland and Southern Cross University, attended by scholars from Australia and overseas and prominent participants in the recognition debates. The contributions have been updated and supplemented to produce a collection that explores what is possible and preferable from a variety of perspectives, organised into three parts: ‘Concepts and Context’, ‘Theories, Critique and Alternatives’, and ‘Comparative Perspectives’. It includes work by well-regarded constitutional law scholars and legal historians, as well as analysis built from and framed by Indigenous world views and knowledges. It also features the voices of a number of comparative scholars – examining relevant developments in the United States, Canada, the South Pacific, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South America. The combined authorship represents 10 universities from across Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. The book is intended to be both an accurate and detailed record of this critical step in Australian legal and political history and an enduring contribution to ongoing dialogue, reconciliation and the empowerment of Australia’s First Peoples.

About the Contributors
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes and International Instruments

Part I: Concepts and Context

Breaking the Silence: The Importance of Constitutional Change
Jennifer Nielsen

Recognition, Referendums and Relationships: Indigenous Worldviews, Constitutional Change, and the ‘Spirit’ of 1967
Ambelin Kwaymullina

Reforming the Australian Constitution: An Overview of Recognition Proposals
Nicky Jones

Part II: Theories, Critique and Alternatives

‘Political Timetables Trump Workable Timetables’: Indigenous Constitutional Recognition and the Temptation of Symbolism over Substance
Megan Davis

Constitutional Amendment and the Issue of Trust
Sean Brennan

Is Australia Ready to Constitutionally Recognise Indigenous Peoples as Equals?
Asmi Wood

The Race Power, Federalism and the Value of Subsidiarity for Indigenous Peoples
Jonathan Crowe

A Survey of Arguments against the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australian Peoples
Jeremy Patrick

Part III: Comparative Perspectives

Constitution as Dialogue: Legal Pluralism and the American Experience
Jennifer Hendry and Melissa L Tatum

Rights-based ‘Recognition’: The Canadian Experience
Sharon Mascher and Simon Young

Beyond Recognition: Promoting Indigenous Peoples and their Laws in the South Pacific
Jennifer Corrin

Indigenous Australians and Constitutional Reform: Learning from a Very British Experience
Vito Breda

Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Peoples in New Zealand and Ecuador
Benjamen Gussen

Appendix: Constitutional Provisions, Recommendations and Proposed Amendments
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act
Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution: Report of the Expert Panel
Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: Final Report
Final Report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act of Recognition Review Panel


Constitutional Recognition of First Peoples in Australia is an excellent collection of essays that brings together some of the pre-eminent thinkers around the continuing debate as to how to recognise our First Peoples in our founding document — the Australian Constitution. The book allows readers to immerse themselves in the progress — or, as some of us would say, the lack of progress — for constitutional change in a well-thought out journey. It is structured, well written and very readable. … As I read the various essays and worked my way through the book, I could certainly relate to my own journey in relation to constitutional recognition. I have often said our Constitution is commendably simple, concise and well thought out. However, there has and continues to be one noticeable conspicuous silence — a reference to the role First Peoples have played in the history of this country. This book endeavours to explain why there is such a conspicuous silence. It should appeal to all Australians, whether academics, students or members of the public who are keen to understand the journey to date and why it is still not resolved in modern Australia. It will serve as an exceptional record of a point in time in Australia about where we currently stand in relation to this issue. While it is not a complete authority on this topic, if there ever could be such a text, it is clearly a book that should be regarded as a significant piece of work. I have no doubt it will be relied upon into the future as a historical aid when considering the issue from both the perspective of academia and the lay person. I am sure anyone who reads this book will find it engrossing, thought provoking and a call to action. – Glenn Ferguson AM, Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2018/1

This collection of essays, edited by Simon Young, Jennifer Nielsen and Jeremy Patrick, was published prior to the Referendum Council’s series of Regional Dialogues, at a time when the recognition process appeared to be listing. As such, there is a real energy in the papers, with the authors not simply writing for an academic conference but Australians as a whole, imploring the country to ‘break the silence’ and reawaken the ‘spirit of 1967’. At the same time, however, many of the papers (naturally) focus on the recommendations of the Expert Panel and/or the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee. … this collection of essays is still required reading. For one, the essays stand as a marker in a long-running debate, signifying the state of academic and political conversation at one of the recognition process’ lowest ebbs. … [T]his is an illuminating collection of essays on constitutional recognition and reform to empower the First Peoples of this continent. It should be read by anyone with an interest in Indigenous rights, constitutional law and democratic theory. Read full review… – Harry Hobbs, Indigenous Law Bulletin, July–September 2017

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