Gumatj dancers at Barunga, where the memorandum of understanding was signed this morning. (ABC News: Emily Napangarti Butcher)
The Northern Territory Government has pledged to work towards a treaty with the Indigenous peoples.
Thirty years after the Barunga statement was given to former prime minister Bob Hawke, a memorandum of understanding has been signed outlining a future treaty between Aboriginal traditional owners and the Government.
Hundreds of community members watched on — some who were present thirty years ago — as the document was signed by Chief Minister Michael Gunner, and all four Northern Territory land councils.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was in attendance of the event, describing it as a historic step forward.
“Too many words of the Barunga Statement 30 years ago have not become reality,” he said.
“It is true and sad that some of those that celebrated that day have passed on.”
Chief Minister Michael Gunner spoke at Barunga this morning. (ABC News: Emily Napangarti Butcher)
Mr Gunner made an emotional speech about the ongoing failings for treaty and constitutional change.
The Minister spoke about collaboration on what the treaty will look like, suggesting the likelihood of more than one treaty with the Indigenous peoples of the Northern Territory.
‘Promises should be kept’
An Independent Treaty Commissioner will now be appointed to oversee the process.
In terms of reparation, there will not be any lump sum involved in the treaty — but consultation will now begin on the best way to use funds delivered by the Government.
Despite Bob Hawke’s failure to follow through with his pledge, the Federal Opposition Leader noted the absence of the Liberal party.
“So many of the federal Labour party are here today, because we think it’s important,” he said.
Mr Shorten re-enforced his support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, pledging to follow through with the proposal made by the Referendum Council.
“A new Labor government will legislate to establish a voice and to enshrine it in our constitution,” he said.
Chairperson of the Anindilykwa Land Council Tony Wurramarrba encompassed the feelings of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on this bittersweet day, finishing his address with these words: “Promises should be kept.”
Galarrwuy Yunupingu is one of the only remaining artists from the original Barunga statement.
Despite today’s signing, Galarrwuy has lost his faith after waiting 30 years.
“The word treaty means nothing. I don’t know what I’m going to get out of treaty. I’m still not gonna get a treaty today — just talking about treaty,” he said.
“And tomorrow, there won’t be an answer,” he said.