Djab Wurrung ,Gunnai, Gunditjmara Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe with a petition calling on the government to legislate the United Nations  Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Image: Lidia Thorpe Facebook)

In his final act in Parliament before officially resigning next year, Federal Labor Senator Pat Dodson tabled a report into the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and urged governments to implement the declaration.

On Wednesday, a private members bill, first introduced by Lidia Thorpe in March 2022, was voted down by Labor, alongside the Coalition, 27 Yes to 10 No’s.

Only eight Greens MPs and two Independent Senators, David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe, voted to legislate UNDRIP into Australian law.

Of the 76 Senators in total, 39 abstained from voting.

Senator Thorpe, who split from the Greens in February over differences on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, said the Labor government railroaded the outgoing Yawuru Senator Pat Dodson’s legacy by not acting on his recommendation to codify UNDRIP into domestic law.

“In all the contributions that he’s made while he’s been here you did not even have the decency or the respect to give Senator Dodson a legacy that we can never forget and that is a legacy of giving us rights in this country.

“Where’s the Blackfellas in this place? Where’s all the Blak people supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Is it not safe for our people to be in this chamber today because the Labor government has decided to not support our rights?” Senator Thorpe asked in the Senate Chamber ahead of the vote.

“The United Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains 46 articles describing a variety of collective and individual rights. It identifies states and governments as responsible for protecting and upholding these rights. It outlines First Peoples rights to our own political structures. Its goal is to defend the survival, dignity and well‐being of Indigenous peoples.”

Since its creation in 2007, 144 countries have adopted UNDRIP, which calls for the most basic of human rights for Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination, the right to be recognised as distinct peoples, the right to free, prior and informed consent, and the right to be free of discrimination.

In 2009, the Federal Government, led by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, stated its support for the Declaration, but 14 years later it still hasn’t complied with international obligations.

Some Indigenous academics and advocates have now called for Australia to be removed as a signatory altogether due to delays and a lack of action in implementing UNDRIP.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, the Djab Wurrung, Gunnai, Gunditjmara Senator once again slammed Labor’s failure to implement her private member’s bill, saying it was derailed by the government’s Voice to Parliament campaign.

“After their failed referendum for a powerless Voice voted down the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. What a shame it is when we have a so-called progressive government such as the Labor Party actively deny our rights.

“Implementing UNDRIP in this country is the obvious next step to pursuing First Peoples justice in this country. Yet a powerless advisory body is as much as the government is prepared to give us.

“Today our people have yet again been let down by a colonial government, even when we’re putting the solutions right in front of them. Once again our value as people and as First Peoples of these lands is being diminished.

“The Australian government is an international embarrassment right now.”