Affirming the sovereignty of the First Peoples in Australia would provide moral leadership to the nation, immediate past president Stuart McMillan told the 15th Assembly meeting at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne on Tuesday morning.
Mr McMillan brought the proposal: “To affirm that the First Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Islander Peoples, are sovereign peoples in this land.”
“An affirmation by the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia won’t usurp the Crown’s sovereignty or the effects of Australia’s Native Title laws,” Mr McMillan said.
“Neither will this affirmation usurp the legal ownership of the Property Trust of each Synod of the Uniting Church.
“What it will do, however, is give moral leadership to our nation.”
Mr McMillan referred to previous Assembly resolutions, the Uniting Church’s Constitutional Preamble, the Mabo and Wik Common Law rulings, the Uluru Statement of the Heart and US civil rights icon Martin Luther King to propound the “self-evident” truth that the First Peoples had equal right to sovereignty in Australia.
“We determine by this affirmation to seek a new way to live together in this land based on mutual respect and these self-evident truths,” Mr McMillan said.
In answer to a question about various state governments exploring the prospect of signing treaties with the First Peoples, Mr McMillan noted that a treaty normally takes place between sovereign peoples.
“With state governments entering the process of entering into treaties with recognition of sovereign peoples we would bring moral leadership to the nation,” Mr McMillan said.
The proposal has been referred to working groups for discussion.