Jenny Leong asks questions on a co design process for truth and treaty

Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (12:25): My question is directed to the Premier. Will the Premier commit to a co-designed, inclusive and multi-partisan truth and treaty process to urgently establish a treaty with First Nations people in New South Wales?

Mr CHRIS MINNS (KogarahPremier) (12:25): I thank the member for her question. I am not sure what "co-designed" would mean in its practical application. We will be talking with First Nations people in New South Wales, the leadership of the Aboriginal community in this State, many of whom put their heart and soul into constitutional change and recognition via a referendum last weekend and who, I think by common consent, are hurting at the moment. I do not pretend that Indigenous views on constitutional changes are homogenous; they are not. There are a variety of views, but the vast majority wanted that constitutional change. My Government and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will of course be beginning consultations with First Nations people as soon as possible. After we speak to them and gain their sense of direction in relation to the next steps, we do commit to bring that to the Parliament.

We acknowledge that this is a hung Parliament and that we do not have a majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. To the extent possible, wherever possible, multi‑partisanship is warranted, will be sought out and is needed in terms of pursuing meaningful change when it comes to our First Nations residents. The reason we need to do that is because what we are doing at the moment is not working. In the Closing the Gap data, the New South Wales life expectancy for Aboriginals is 9.3 years lower for males and 7.6 years lower for females. As I said in the House last week, the leading cause of death for young Aboriginal men is suicide. We know that in 17 socio-economic outcomes, Indigenous people are at the lowest on all of those indices. What we are doing is not working.

We respect and acknowledge the result of the referendum on the weekend, but that does not mean that is the end of (a) the pathway towards Indigenous reconciliation and (b) putting everything we can into Closing the Gap metrics, not just for health indices and criminal justice indices but also—and this is equally important—symbolism for First Nations people. Symbols are important and symbolic reconciliation is, if one speaks to First Nations Australians who live in Australia's largest State, very important to them as well. I cannot give the member for Newtown easy answers. The truth of the matter is that after the defeat of the referendum on the weekend, I do not have easy answers for this. But we will be guided by the leadership of the Aboriginal community in New South Wales, and we will bring that deliberation to the floor of this Parliament.

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