Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:27:16) — I rise to speak briefly on the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018. In doing so I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land across Victoria and any elders past and present here today. I recognise that Aboriginal people have been here for not only thousands and thousands of years but thousands of generations. In coming here today I want to pay my respects to my fifth cousin Herb Patten, who is not only a wonderful elder from the Gunnai nation but also a professional gum leaf player; and his relative Jack Patten, who I think will be remembered by many as one of the first Aboriginal activists to take us down this path on the first Day of Mourning in 1937 in Sydney. I am pleased to be supporting this historic bill in his memory.
For many these are days when it is sort of sad, because we so often see this two-party stalemate. We so often see the party politics playing out instead of good policy being at the forefront. At Reason we support good policy no matter where it comes from, and this is exceptionally good and historic policy.
I was particularly horrified by the way the federal government dismissed the recommendations of the Uluru summit in May last year — that Uluru summit that wanted to enshrine a First Nations voice in our Australian constitution and that was dismissed. I am pleased that in Victoria we will be walking a different path and that this bill commits our state to a treaty process. It does not create a treaty, but it provides the foundations for future treaty negotiations and establishes the elements that are necessary to support future treaty negotiations. It has broad support amongst the traditional owners.
In talking about this, and certainly in recognising that the federal seat of Batman changed to the seat of Cooper yesterday, I was very pleased to have a conversation with Phil Cooper about it. His father, William Cooper, basically established that Day of Mourning with Jack Patten nearly a century ago. I liked the way that Phil Cooper described this bill. He said that it is really not much more than ‘organising a meeting to organise another meeting’, and I think this is what it is, but it is important. It is important that we have been able to bring the traditional owners around Victoria together to establish what will be a historic measure in creating a treaty in the future.
I am certain that creating this treaty will go towards helping us close the gap, because nothing else has, no matter how many billions of dollars we have been pushing into trying to close the gap on education and health et cetera. I hope that this does. I also hope that a treaty will enable us to pronounce Aboriginal words. We were all commenting on this as Ms Springle and Ms Dunn went through those wonderful names with difficulty. I am somewhat ashamed that I know one or two Aboriginal words, and I feel that I really should know more and our children should know more. I hope that part of this process brings that together. We see it in places like New Zealand, where there has been a treaty, where Maori words just slip off people’s tongues with ease. It is not the same in Australia and in Victoria. I do not think the importance of this treaty can be overstated. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to embark on this path of recognition, healing and especially self-determination. I commend the bill to the house.