South Australia has become the first state to allow an Indigenous voice to parliament with Premier Peter Malinauskas declaring it the most powerful show of respect towards Australia’s First Nations people.
The Labor government’s legislation passed the House of Assembly in a special sitting on Sunday and was immediately proclaimed by Governor Frances Adamson in a rare public ceremony in front of a cheering crowd who gathered to watch the proceedings outside parliament house in Adelaide.
Mr Malinauskas said South Australia had a proud history of welcoming people from other cultures, and the opportunities for prosperity passed from one generation to the next was a remarkable Australian story.
But he said it was an even more remarkable Australian tragedy that the one group of people left most behind for the past 200 years were the people who, for more than 65,000 years, had provided “great care and custodianship for the land we stand on today”.
The SA legislation allows for six regions to be established across the state each with directly elected representatives.
Two members from each group will then form the State First Nations Voice, which can address either house of state parliament on legislation of interest to Aboriginal people.
Some administrative work remains to be done, including finalising the boundaries for each of the representative regions, but the state government hopes to have the system operational by the end of the year.