An Indigenous academic from Australia has argued that the Queensland government’s decision to legislate an Indigenous treaty will not be beneficial for the majority of Indigenous Australians. This comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that she would introduce a treaty proposal in the state’s parliament next week. The bill would create a First Nations Treaty Institute and a five-member truth-telling inquiry with a culturally appropriate, non-adversarial approach. This would make Queensland the first state in Australia to legislate an Indigenous treaty.
A treaty is understood as an agreement between Aboriginal people and the government that would recognize Indigenous Australians as the original owners of the land, and may include provisions for rights and compensation. In her speech at the Path to Treaty event, Palaszczuk cited Australian historian Henry Reynolds, who previously proposed to change the date of Australia Day and criticized Australian founding fathers such as Samuel Griffith and John Downer for their roles in the “destruction of Aboriginal society.”
However, Indigenous academic Anthony Dillon said that an Indigenous treaty is “not beneficial at all” for Indigenous Australians, and that many Aboriginal people who are calling for a treaty are already doing well without one. He argued that although Australia does not have a treaty like New Zealand or Canada, “doing something because everyone else is doing it is not a good enough reason for doing it.” Dillon further said that Aboriginal people can share in the pride of identifying as Australian if they want, and many have done so without a treaty.
Director of Legal Rights Program at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne Morgan Begg previously argued in a commentary on The Epoch Times that “at its best, the issue of a treaty is just incoherent.” He said that “Indigenous Australians are Australians, and the Australian government can’t sign a treaty with itself,” and that “at its worst, the treaty is a divisive idea because it is predicated on the idea that Indigenous Australians are in some way legally separate from other Australians.”