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Australia's island state, Tasmania, is one step closer to recognising Palawa first nations in their constitutional preamble.
Michelle Rimmer

14 Oct 2016 - 4:57 PM  UPDATED 20 Oct 2016 - 9:42 AM

Legislation acknowledging Aboriginal people in the state's constitution has been passed in Tasmania's Lower House. 

Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Will Hodgman says the bill seeks to recognise Aboriginal Australians as the state's first people.

But some members of the community are questioning the Government's motives behind the move. 

Tasmanian Aboriginal lawyer and activist Michael Mansell told NITV News Aboriginal people are unlikely to benefit from the proposed changes. 

"Having a gesture in the Tasmanian constitution will not deliver any practical benefits for Aboriginal people."

"Governments can simply stand up there and make all these high moral statements, but at the same time they can open up the West Coast to four-wheel drives to destroy Aboriginal heritage." 

Mr Mansell says he is disappointed by the lack of community consultation on the issue. 

"Hardly any Aboriginal people even knew that this parliamentary debate was taking place."

"They should have gone to the people that are the intended beneficiaries of the acknowledgement, the Aboriginal people, and say, 'look, this is what we'd like to do, is that suitable to you?'."

Mr Mansell is calling for more community consultation before the legislation is passed in the Upper House. 

"Even if it takes two or three years and we've got to have a lot of negotiations with the white and the black community, that's what has to be done in order to make an occasion truly historic, rather than something that is purely self-indulgent."

The state's Labor Opposition says it supports the recognition of the Palawa first nations in their constitutional preamble, but argued for an adjournment to ensure a full public chamber could mark the occasion.  

The proposed changes will be considered by the Upper House next week.

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