Prof Megan Davis to deliver Senate Occasional Lecture in Canberra

Senate Occasional Lecture - Prof  Megan Davis

Friday 11 July - 12.15pm

Main Committe Room, Parliament House, Canberra

Competing notions of constitutional ‘recognition’: truth and justice or living ‘off the crumbs that fall off the White Australian tables’

The trajectory of ‘recognition’ advocacy since 1967 reveals that Aboriginal notions of constitutional ‘recognition’ have included a constitutional ‘treaty’ power, designated parliamentary seats, recognition of Aboriginal customary law and a racial non-discrimination clause. The trajectory of the state, conversely, can be seen as having shifted from previously entertaining strong forms of ‘recognition’, to the past two decades of advocacy for ‘recognition’ in the form of a passing preambular nod accompanied by a no legal effect clause and a waning interest in a formal reconciliation process. 

In this lecture Professor Davis will track both the Indigenous and state trajectories of ‘recognition’ in the context of reconciliation. In light of these competing narratives, Professor Davis will explain why the Expert Panel’s recommendations in relation to sections 51A and 116A of the Constitution are the most appropriate next step in "recognition" and why a weak form of recognition may be perceived as a step to the side or, to paraphrase Charles Perkins, living off the crumbs and being told to be grateful. The starting point for constitutional recognition, Professor Davis argues, should be about reconciliation - truth and justice - not the notorious ‘double majority’ that plagues constitutional evolution in Australia.

Admission free–bookings not required

Enquiries to Senate Procedure Office

Phone: (02) 6277 3072


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