Harry Hobbs appeared on Triple J's Hack program (29 May 2017) speaking about the recent Indigenous leaders meeting at Uluru and their request for more than just symbolic Constitutional Recognition.
Q: Barnaby Joyce described the Indigenous body as “another chamber in parliament”, is that really what it would be like?
A: Not that’s not true at all. The statement at Uluru doesn’t provide much details about what the advisory body would look like, but it has been drawn from a number of years of discussion most academics and indigenous peoples themselves about what exactly an indigenous voice should look like. Certainly what it appears to be, and what it is most likely to be is an advisory body that is elected by indigenous peoples. All it would do would advisory government on proposed laws when debated in parliament about how those laws will affect indigenous peoples. It’s really quite a moderate amendment and wouldn’t at all amount to a third chamber of parliament.
Q: What would the difference between the Congress of First Nations and this new advisory body be?
A: "This new advisory body would have a dedicated role to advise government on laws that affect indigenous peoples. The key difference between that and the National Congress is that there’s no formal interface between the congress and government, it’s just an indigenous representative body, the government won’t necessarily listen to it".
Q: Will the change make that much difference.
A: "Again, it’s not clear how much difference it will make, the government can most likely choose to ignore the report from the advisory body, it won’t bind any decisions, it won’t be able to veto any decisions or laws by the government, so really it will just advise government. The key thing is, since ATSIC was abolished in 2005 there hasn’t been a formal elected indigenous body with the power to advise government on proposed laws, this would bring that back. Because it would be constitutionally enshrined, it means parliament couldn’t abolish the body when it chooses to do so".
Listen to the full show here (Harry speaks from 5:20 to 10:30)