Opposition Leader Luke Foley has announced NSW Labor’s support for a Treaty between the government of New South Wales and the State’s Aboriginal peoples.

Mr Foley has committed the Labor Party, in the event it forms a government in 2019, to establishing a Treaty process in New South Wales. 

Treaties with indigenous communities have already been reached in Canada and New Zealand, and Victoria and South Australia are already proceeding with their own negotiations.

A NSW Treaty would not only recognise the facts of history and acknowledge the wrongs of the past but help to put things right for the future.

The contents of a Treaty would be determined by negotiation but could cover such things as the recognition of historic wrongs; the speedier resolution of land claims; an agreement of how services like health and education are provided; economic development opportunities and language rights.

Mr Foley formally made the commitment in a response to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s (NSWALC) strategic plan which states that it will “work towards establishing a Treaty process in NSW”.  

Mr Foley will publicly state his support in an address to the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council in Redfern tomorrow to mark 80 years since the first ‘Day of Mourning’ by NSW’s Aboriginal community.

Mr Foley has invited the NSWALC’s ideas on how to start the process to negotiate a Treaty or Treaties.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Colonisation commenced at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. The land was claimed for the British Empire.

“As a society we must come to terms with the dispossession of the indigenous people and the consequences of that dispossession. Only down this road will we find fulfilment.

“A Labor government will bring to a Treaty process goodwill – to rectify past injustices and to advance the future interests of the State’s Aboriginal people.

“A government led by me will develop a process of consultation and negotiation involving the full participation of the State’s indigenous representatives.

“A Treaty will provide a truthful and honourable basis for our reconciliation with the State’s first people.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Harris

“I absolutely support a Treaty between NSW’s Aboriginal community and the State and applaud the NSW Aboriginal Land Council for starting the process.

“It is time to build on the existing relationship with the NSW Aboriginal community to empower them to achieve lasting generational change.

“A Treaty is a fitting way to forthrightly acknowledge the past but more importantly create a meaningful way forward, to make a practical difference for the health, education and employment of NSW’s Aboriginal peoples.

“I look forward to the day when we can formalise a Treaty with the State’s First Peoples.”