House of Assembly: Thursday, March 09, 2023



First Nations Voice Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading (resumed on motion).

Mr HUGHES (Giles) (16:46): I will continue from where I finished off. I was talking about a young man by the name of Buddy Newchurch, an Aboriginal from Whyalla, an incredibly talented soccer player, a left-footed midfielder who was spotted by a talent scout from Chelsea. The community raised money for him to go over to Chelsea as a 16 year old to go through the trials and the training to see whether he reached their standard. He was there for three months, the weather was terrible, and he was lonely. As you can imagine, the standards are incredibly high. He was a talented soccer player, but probably did not quite make it.

He came back to Whyalla—and this is one of the reasons I am raising this story in the context of this debate—and within 10 years, this talented, well-liked young man was dead. He was murdered outside the Westland Hotel. He was bashed to death. The people who committed this heinous act were never caught. Indeed, to this day—and this is dating back to probably 1982—there is still a $200,000 reward for anybody with any information about the murder.

The reason I bring this up is that when I look in my electorate and when I look nationally, there is huge disadvantage in Aboriginal communities. This was a young man who died before his 30th birthday. When I look at the APY lands, we talk about the fact that there is often this artificial division that is introduced between the Voice being something symbolic, whereas we should get down to work with all the practical stuff. Obviously, some of this stuff is of a dire nature.

Look at the APY lands—and I have said this before—the biggest issue in my electorate is the fact that the average life expectancy of someone from the APY lands is in the early 50s. The average life expectancy of a male in the APY lands is 48 years of age. When we talk about profound issues in this state and other remote communities, especially in Australia, this is one of the profound conditions. It has been said that the Voice is not going to address that, and other members have said that the Voice is not a panacea. It is not there to be a cure-all for what are often very deep structural and complex issues.

The Voice should be seen not just in a symbolic sense but also in a practical sense. If you are going to build something worthwhile, you are going to need tools and a toolkit. The Voice, in a very practical sense, will be one of the tools and perhaps an important tool in the toolkit when it comes to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage in this state, given the platform that will be provided, given the focus and given the degree of accountability that a Voice of this nature might well generate.

We have our own process here, which is clearly a legislative process. At the federal level, they are looking at a constitutional process. With the short time that I have left, as we are talking about the Voice, I think it is important that Aboriginal voices and the way that Aboriginal voices are condensed in the Uluru Statement need to be put again and again on the record, because it sums up a lot of things that are incredibly important. In our own way as a state, with a legislative approach, we will give a practical platform to what the Uluru Statement is calling for. When the Uluru Statement was delivered, it stated:

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

As I said, we are seeking to do that in a legislative sense, not in a constitutional sense. I can understand the arguments at a federal level why it should be done in a constitutional manner.

I mentioned earlier the engagement process that was undertaken in this state. It was an extensive process of consultation, and it was an iterative process. Dale and others went out there, listened, came back, condensed what they had listened to, and then went out there again to see if they had reflected the views that they heard.

In the Adelaide and outer metropolitan area there were seven areas where meetings were held. I have not counted Murray Bridge in that because I count that as being regional. So there were seven in the metropolitan area. I was very pleased to see the efforts in the APY lands, with all the major communities in the APY lands visited as well. In regional South Australia, consultation processes took place in 15 different communities. A whole series of questions were asked and answered, and this legislation now enshrines that feedback.

Mr PATTERSON (Morphett) (16:55): All Australians can agree that closing the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians is both a national ambition and, closer to home, an ambition here in South Australia. While European settlement first occurred in Australia in 1788, it was not until 1836 that European settlement came to this state, with ideals based on a free and fair society. The electorate of Morphett that I represent is, of course, the site of the Old Gum Tree in Glenelg North, where South Australia was proclaimed on 28 December 1836.

From then forward, each year on 28 December a Proclamation Day ceremony is held, and the Governor reads out to the crowd the original proclamation that was written by Governor Hindmarsh. It stated that his duty was to extend the same protection to the Aboriginal population as to the rest of His Majesty's subjects, and 'to punish with exemplary severity, all acts of violence or injustice' against the Aboriginal people, who were to be protected under the law and 'equally entitled to the privileges of British Subjects'.

At the same time, we inherited the Westminster system of democratic governance, which I believe has been and will continue to be a foundational strength of our state. It is something worth protecting. In fact, I contend that it is the best system of government in the world. That does not mean it is a perfect system. Democracy does have flaws, but it is based on an ideal that values each individual equally.

Governor Hindmarsh rightly intended—although the wording is outdated compared to what we say now—that the rights of Aboriginal people living in this land would not be adversely affected. Unfortunately, in the case of Aboriginal people, the ideals have not been met practically. Tragically, you could say that the opposite has happened. The First Nations peoples were dispossessed and often persecuted, and the effects of the coming of Europeans have continued, over successive generations, to be devastating.

Each year at that Proclamation Day ceremony there is a peaceful protest by Indigenous representatives, demonstrating against the dislocation of this event. It is something that in recent decades has rightly received much more focus at a state level. It is something that both sides of politics in this parliament have grappled with and tried to put significant effort into, after all wanting to provide better outcomes: better health outcomes, better educational outcomes and, of course, better economic outcomes that would then lead to stable housing, family and community life for Aboriginal people, as well as for all South Australians.

We should thus proceed with humility, knowing that the difficulties and challenges the Aboriginal people have faced over the course of our modern history have remained complex problems for public policy, for governments, for parliaments and for those bodies that work in this difficult field.

But that is not to say there have not been positive steps along the way. Certainly, from the 1960s a significant area of focus in South Australia has been related to land rights. In 1966 we saw the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act introduced by former Labor Premier Dunstan. In 1981 we saw the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act; that happened under the Liberal Tonkin government. In 1997, the then Liberal government was the first in the nation to make an apology to the stolen generations. In 2013, the Constitution Act 1934 was amended to include a formal statement recognising Aboriginal peoples as the first peoples and nations of South Australia.

Certainly, the former Liberal government from 2018 to 2022 also has a proud record when it comes to practical work focusing on closing the gap here in South Australia. This included, of course, the former Premier being the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, prioritising this portfolio in his government, and establishing the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, Dr Roger Thomas, in July 2018. On 3 December 2020, Dr Thomas provided a report on the achievements of his office for the period July 2018 to November 2020 to the South Australian parliament's House of Assembly. This was a historic event, as it was the first time an Aboriginal person had spoken formally on the floor of parliament's lower house.

We also saw the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags fly here alongside the Speaker's chair in the House of Assembly and fly alongside the Australian and South Australian flags. It also came with an Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan; the creation of the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young Children, April Lawrie; reconciliation action plans; custody notification services; cultural awareness training; and, of course, the commitment at Lot Fourteen for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre, now Tarrkarri. Also in Lot Fourteen was The Circle, the First Nations entrepreneur hub. When I was Minister for Trade and Investment, I was fortunate enough to welcome a number of First Nations businesses to The Circle when it first commenced.

But it is not just in parliament where practical change can occur and has occurred. I can certainly reflect on my time in the AFL, which I think can be rightly credited with showcasing what Indigenous excellence looks like on a sporting field. Certainly, an important step that was made while I was playing in the AFL was where the AFL moved to draw a line in the sand that racial vilification was utterly unacceptable. There is no doubt that this led to breaking down barriers that had once existed and, importantly, it led to equality and respect rather than separation and separatism and doubt. It also led to a significant positive shift in society, and out of that came much better efforts to understand the Indigenous players, their upbringing and also their culture.

The result has been that decades later we now have nearly 10 per cent of AFL players being Indigenous, in what is a cutthroat industry. It is ruthless when it comes to performance and results, and each of those Indigenous players has worked incredibly hard to seize the opportunity that they have been presented with and also to be role models who will inspire others to emulate them. Importantly, the game is so much better for this transformation and it has helped to bring a greater appreciation and respect for Indigenous players and their culture. It does give a really good insight into how South Australia and the nation could be better off if we can bring out the best in South Australia's Indigenous population.

While they are leaders from a sporting aspect, locally it has been important over the years that I have been a member of parliament to see Kaurna leaders become role models within the community. One of those is Tamaru, who often provides a Welcome to Country at community events, most recently speaking at the citizenship ceremony on Australia Day. When I was Minister for Trade and Investment, Tamaru was involved in developing the department's Reconciliation Action Plan and we both spoke to department staff at the launch of the Reconciliation Action Plan in 2021.

On that occasion, and others such as the recent citizenship ceremony, Tamaru has talked about the challenges that European settlement has meant for him and his family, and also his efforts towards reconciliation. Rather than just talk, he does involve the audience, getting someone from the audience to participate. He starts off placing that person in front of him and he makes the point to everyone present that reconciliation is not about that person walking in front of him. He then places them behind him and he goes on to say that reconciliation is also not about him walking in front of them. Finally, he gets them to stand next to him and, while they stand there next to each other, Tamaru says that reconciliation is about walking side by side together. It is a very simple but powerful message about equality and mutual respect.

Ideally, what that means for us here in this place is having Aboriginal members of parliament here beside us as our aspiration and wanting to aim towards that. We have certainly seen that substantively in the current make-up of the federal parliament, which sees 11 members of parliament from Indigenous backgrounds. That really is an example that we here in our Parliament of South Australia can strive for.

Of course, alongside direct representation in parliament, having advisory bodies that advocate for Indigenous people and issues helps to aid decision-making and policy. In South Australia, there are over 190 such entities that exist to support our Indigenous population, such as the Aboriginal Affairs Executive Committee, the Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council, Aboriginal Family Support Services, the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, the Aboriginal Lands Trust, and even the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee here in this parliament.

Certainly this broad number does emphasise that there has been substantial focus that both sides of parliament have put in to both engage and address Aboriginal disadvantage. I think South Australians broadly and on both sides of politics in the South Australian parliament have been committed to Indigenous affairs and improving the lot of Aboriginal Australians and South Australians.

Oftentimes, the broad outcomes to Closing the Gap are agreed on, where we want to aim; but the debate in parliament has been more about how this should be achieved. Additionally, certainly for myself, and I am certain everyone in this parliament would agree, the results have not resulted in the improvements and outcomes that we and the South Australian people desire. As a parliament, we should remain focused on practical actions and outcomes and so we support greater engagement to support better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

The former Liberal government worked diligently to consult with the Aboriginal community, with the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, Dr Roger Thomas, doing so over the period between 2018 and 2022. This extensive consultation resulted in an Aboriginal Representative Body Bill being introduced here in 2021 with the goal to establish an Aboriginal representative body as an independent statutory body. Its role would be to seek the views of all Aboriginal South Australians on matters of concern and interest to them.

The Aboriginal representative body would be able to work within the existing parliamentary committee system, which allows work to be done to aid parliament decision-making. It retains the primacy of the parliament. It was also proposed to replace the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee with a new Aboriginal affairs and representation standing committee. Like any other parliamentary committee, this standing committee would report to parliament annually on the operation of the Aboriginal representation body; however, this mechanism would not create a third chamber in the parliament.

In fact, the committee set-up was a criticism by Labor in the debate of this bill in the previous session of parliament. Rather, the committee should be seen as a virtue and as a body where meaningful, practical work could be done that is transparent to the public. It is prudent, incremental change that respects the Westminster system. It is a model that Labor speakers opposed in the debate.

Instead, we now have Labor's model that we are debating now, which seeks to establish an elected body of Indigenous South Australian representatives known as the State Voice to Parliament that would formally interact with our parliament and with state government. This includes the State Voice receiving notification of the introduction of every bill to state parliament and having the opportunity to address either chamber, although not both, with regard to any given bill.

The proposed State Voice would also require meetings to take place between both the Voice and cabinet, with briefings held for the Voice by the chief executives of every government department at least twice yearly where any matter of interest can be discussed and have the ability to influence decision-making at the highest possible level in South Australia.

So we have Labor's model, which creates a large machinery of engagement that represents a departure from the Westminster system in terms of representatives and representations that can be heard on the parliamentary floor regarding legislation. As I said, the government seeks to set up a body that can speak in parliament on any bill, whether that be government or private member.

Although it would not have the powers of a house of parliament, it certainly would have the potential to act as a third chamber of parliament and, at the very least, a third bureaucracy and with that the de facto powers that may get introduced to delay or obstruct the parliament on any bill before the house.

Alternatively, if you think in terms of timing, it could be considered as a first chamber since the entire premise of the Voice to Parliament is that it is consulted and gets to speak on legislation before it is passed by the parliament and the delays that that might then introduce. I did say 'premise', though, because the legislation allows for the Voice to speak on a bill after it has been passed, but surely by then it is too late.

There is also the risk that the Voice on the parliament floor will be a platform to voice opinion but with no action and no practical outcomes. Potentially, the Voice may speak on bills, as I said, after they have been passed as the legislation allows. That has the potential then to cause loss of faith or potentially even a push for greater powers for the Voice in the future. If it is the case where there is no practical action, what does the Voice then look to do? Does it instead seek to influence other areas of government? We know that the bill gives access of the Voice to executive government, so is that where efforts would be concentrated rather than here in our parliament?

The opposition therefore is of the view that the model that is the subject of this bill is defective and consequently will not achieve practical outcomes for those in need, and for that reason have opposed the bill. While the bill is defective, there are amendments proposed by the opposition that create engagement and build on the work done by the previously mentioned Aboriginal representative body that can work within the existing parliamentary committee system.

The opposition's position allows work to be done to aid parliament decision-making that does not involve a Voice that creates a third chamber but, rather, retains the primacy of the parliament established in the Westminster system, and the benefits that system brings to progressing the interests of all South Australians, and the firm belief that our current parliamentary democracy is capable of representing a variety of racial and ethnic diversity, a variety of cultures, whether they be a majority or a minority, a parliament that is capable of better health outcomes, better educational outcomes and better economic outcomes that lead to stable housing, family and community life for Aboriginal people, as well as for all South Australians.

As I said before, my desire, like that of all my colleagues on this side of the house, is to search for areas of disadvantage and do everything we can to remedy that disadvantage whatever their background, so that Aboriginal South Australians can thrive based on having access to education, health, employment and ultimately economic opportunity so as to reach their potential and, in so doing, become active members of the South Australian community.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS (West Torrens—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Energy and Mining) (17:12): I am pleased to stand with the Premier and our Attorney-General in supporting this legislation, indeed our great party that is making incremental yet monumental change. And it is monumental. It is a remarkable feat that, so long since settlement here in South Australia, we will be the first parliament to introduce a Voice for Indigenous South Australians to the decision-making bodies that have governed.

Looking at the Uluru Statement from the Heart, you quickly realise from the words of Indigenous leaders that the Voice is a gift to Australians. The Voice is a hand out of reconciliation: it is their way of allowing us to atone. It does send a very, very strong message. I will admit, I was always very reluctant to do Acknowledgement of Country because I was not quite sure how that fits into our day-to-day lives and remarks but, after having spoken to Indigenous leaders about that a couple of years ago, it occurred to them to educate me that the Welcome to Country in fact is a gift. It is another gift that Indigenous leaders give us: the Welcome to Country is, in fact, an invitation no different from when you welcome someone into your home.

So the Voice, I think, is that moment, that moment that many members of parliament will look back on in their careers in parliament and say, 'I played a small role in moving reconciliation that little bit further. I played a small role in undoing a lot of harm and righting a wrong, and acknowledging one of the oldest continuous living cultures anywhere in the world.' And then there will be those members of parliament who will look back with regret that they were not part of that journey, that they stood in the way of it. I think those members will regret not supporting this move.

This Voice does not reconstitute the house. This Voice will not impact the constitutional arrangements of constituents. It will not give people an extra franchise: it gives them a voice. I think members who are opposing this, even those who are opposing it against their better judgement—and remember that I have sat in this parliament since October 1997. I have heard year after year after year the virtues of the Liberal Party, that they are not bound by their party, that they can freely exercise their own internal views and vote any way they see fit on any legislation with there being no consequence.

On this matter of the Voice, every Liberal member of both houses of this parliament is speaking with one voice, and that is, 'No.' None are exercising the rights they have as members of a party of individuals, a party they say is of liberty/libertarian values, small 'l' liberal values, that they can now cross the floor and vote with the government. They will not. They refuse. I think there is a few reasons for that, which I will speculate on. I do not know how accurate they are but I am going to speculate about why it is some members are not supporting it and why they have come to this decision.

This decision, in my opinion, from what I have heard, was roundly endorsed by the Liberal Party party room, with very little dissent, if any. I am not saying that there was not dissent but from what I have been told it was a popular move within the Liberal Party to not support the introduction of a state-based Voice, despite it being the policy of the previous Marshall government. I am not quite sure how they rationalised that internally. In one respect, had they won the election in 2022 and been sworn in on 20 March, they would be introducing a voice—or was that all just words?

Both parties went to the election promising a Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians. We offered our bipartisan support for the voice that was being proposed by the then government; obviously, we had our views. But the now opposition, the former government, which still has the former Premier in its ranks, will be voting against the Voice, and that is disappointing, but I respect their right to do so. They are democratically elected and they have their own agency and they have decided that collectively they will act as one here and they will vote against the Voice.

They will offer amendments, I understand, but I do not know whether the government has accepted any of those amendments or not but, regardless, the position of the parliamentary Liberal Party is that they oppose this Voice. I think that is to the detriment of the members who are participating in that 'no' vote and to the detriment of the parliament and the state. I also think that they will live to regret that point, in time, and they will regret that decision.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to offer an alternative opinion on the Voice. I think that is perfectly legitimate. But opposing it outright diminishes the Liberal Party because I think that they are better than that. I think, given that there are people in the Liberal Party who probably do believe this is the right thing to do, yet are still voting no, are doing so for party political reasons, and that is disappointing.

Of course, we are politicians and we all act politically and there are consequences for politics and elections, and one of those consequences is that we are here and they are there, and they are trying to carve out a point of difference. I think what they are attempting to do is to de-Marshallify the Liberal Party, trying to undo what they think was four years of left wing progressive liberalism.

I did not think there was anything left wing or progressive about the Marshall government. I think they were a hard right wing economic re-rationalist government. I do not see any virtues. They might have been progressive on social matters like euthanasia and abortion, but they were matters of conscience. Yes, they were introduced by the Deputy Premier and the then Premier had very strong views on those things, but there seems to be a sense within the Liberal Party to try to distance themselves from their most recent Premier who was the only Premier to have won an election from opposition since Dean Brown in 1993.

In distancing themselves from the one person who was able to bring them out of opposition and into government it seems to me that they are speaking to a base that is ever-shrinking. I am seeing a lot of decisions by the South Australian Liberal Party that I think are raising concerns that they are adopting a Matthew Guy or Peter Dutton style of opposition, and that is an interesting tactic from a historical perspective. We do not know yet how Peter Dutton will perform at the upcoming federal election. I do not know. I have had limited dealings with Peter Dutton. On a personal note, I hear he is very pleasant and very nice, but from a political point of view I do not think he has the ability to—

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): There is a point of order from the member for Heysen.

Mr TEAGUE: It goes for as long as we have heard, that there is a 127(1) standing order point to be made at some point, with a 128 consequence. I just note it. I am perfectly content to hear out the remaining minutes, but what we are hearing is—

An honourable member interjecting:

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Order! The member will be heard in silence.

Mr TEAGUE: What we are hearing is contrary to 127(1) and I call on you, sir, to act in terms of standing order 128.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): I do think the minister may be straying into uncharted territory so I will just remind him to please keep his remarks related to the bill.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I may have hit a raw nerve, sir.

Mr Teague: Not really.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Then why the point of order?

Mr Teague: No raw nerve.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: 'No raw nerve; I am not upset by this, I just raised a point of order because I could.'

Mr Teague: We're in a second reading debate on a bill. Show some respect to the parliament.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Okay, the minister will be heard in silence.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Thank you very much, sir. I am not sure I will recover after that.

Mr Teague: I am sure you will.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I am not sure I will. In fact, I may need to take a Bex and lie down after that vicious, eloquent, witty attack.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Minister, if we could get back to the bill, please.

Mr Teague: Some of us are serious about this bill; some of us are serious about the debate.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: It is true, some people are very serious about opposing a Voice to Parliament, and the member for Heysen is leading that opposition. I think his opposition will forever mar his time in this parliament. I think his constituents will be very disappointed to know about his position, which they will be informed of very soon.

I also think that the shadow attorney-general is letting the entire side down, on the other side of the house, on this bill. The Liberal Party's opposition is after the Uluru Statement from the Heart, where First Nations leaders have reached out to what they would say are governments and parliamentarians who have never ever lived the disadvantage that their communities have.

They have reached out to them to say, 'We are prepared to forgive. We are prepared to reconcile. We are prepared to put the hand of friendship out, and we ask to be (1) acknowledged on a national level in our nation's constitution as Australia's First People,' and we should absolutely do that, but I fear that will be opposed. They also want to have a voice—a voice in the corridors of power.

The establishment of a Voice, led by the first initiated Indigenous man to hold the portfolio of Attorney-General, is I think one of the great leaps forward for South Australia. When you look back at 1836 to now, the firsts in South Australia keep on getting racked up, whether it is the free settler state principle; the initial Indigenous engagement, while having its scars and black marks, was attempted to be done differently to what it was in other states—but, still, lots to be done, lots to be learnt, lots to be sorry for—an apology in this parliament; equal franchise for women; one vote, one value; continually pushing through reforms; and now the Voice.

We will be the first state to legislate the Voice and the Liberal Party are on the wrong side of history again. It is that point of leadership that they lack, that here we are on a second reading speech of a Voice to Parliament, and the parliament is not unanimous in its agreement for this bill. It seems to me that the Voice will actually help, in my opinion, in better governance. Yes, the Voice can be awkward, and I think the Voice will be awkward. It will be difficult. It can be confronting. There will be questions about funding. There will be questions about resourcing. There will be questions about how budgets are being formulated. There will be questions on bills and legislation.

There will be awkward moments in this parliament, and that is a good thing because whenever we look at disadvantage when it comes to cohorts of South Australia citizens, in those cohorts of disadvantage, our Indigenous populations, unfortunately, are table leaders. They are, unfortunately, leaders in incarceration in our men's prisons. They are leaders in disadvantage in land. They have lower life expectancy. We need to do more and should do more. The intent of the Voice is to try to also help alleviate some of this disadvantage as well as being a political acknowledgement of the longest continuous civilisation in the world.

It is a beautiful civilisation from which there is much that we can learn. This Voice I think gives South Australians the opportunity to embrace their fellow citizens and put out the hand of reconciliation. The model that the bill proposes is for a number of Local First Nations Voices—at least six—to be elected by local regions, and a State First Nations Voice comprising two presiding members of each First Nations Voice.

I do not think the government is saying this is a perfect model. I do not think the government is saying in any way that this might not change as the Voice evolves—and I am sure it will evolve, as it should, like our parliamentary democracy has evolved. At first, it was landowners only. Then, it was men only. Then we had women. Then we lowered the voting age. There was a continual change to the way we enfranchise people and the Voice will be no different.

To give an analogy, it is a bit like the safeguard mechanism debate that is occurring in the federal parliament. The question is not whether we should make legislation that abates carbon. The question is: should we at least get a system in place that can evolve? It is the same with the Voice. I think the Voice is that first step that we have taken since 1788, and since 1836, to actually evolve a better relationship with the people who were here when British colonisation first began.

I think there is a lot more that we can do with the Voice, but this is the first step. You know the old Chinese saying: the longest journeys begin with a first step. Well, this is the first step, and it has been a very, very long journey. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.