• Jill Gallagher, AO, Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner is given a standing ovation after addressing parliament in Melbourne on March 28, 2018. (AAP)Source: AAP
Following a debate that lasted several hours, the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 has passed through the Upper House of Victorian Parliament.
Madeline Hayman-Reber

21 Jun 2018 - 3:22 PM  UPDATED 21 Jun 2018 - 10:48 PM

After a lengthy debate lasting several hours and well into the night, the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 has passed through the Upper House of Victorian Parliament without amendment.

It will now become law.

“Victoria will be the first state in Australia to negotiate Treaty with its First Peoples. It’s a historic moment in the history of our state and our country, and the start of our journey to Treaty," Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Natalie Hutchins said.

“Treaty will have benefits for all Victorians – promoting reconciliation, fostering shared pride in Aboriginal culture and helping to heal the wounds of the past.

“Aboriginal Victorians will continue to be at the centre of this process, as we work towards establishing the Aboriginal Representative Body.”

Greens MP for Northcote and Gunnai-Kurnai and Gunditjmara woman, Lidia Thorpe said that while she was pleased it passed, there was more work to be done.

“The Howard Government said it couldn’t say sorry. When the Rudd Government did exactly that years later, the sky did not fall in. Now the Andrews Government is saying it can’t recognise Clan sovereignty. They are in bad company," Ms Thorpe said.

“This treaty process must not be geared toward assimilation, and the way to protect against this is to have the Clans’ sovereignty recognised and protected every step of the way.

“Sovereignty is about rights to govern independently over your own land and people and Aboriginal Clans never agreed to give this up. This land was forcibly stolen from them via an unjust, unlawful and brutal war against their peoples.

“Aboriginal clans need their rights to land, resources, and self-governance restored through the Treaty process. What form this takes must be self-determined by each Clan and negotiated with the Victorian Government.”

The Victorian State Government was confident earlier inn the afternoon that the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 would pass today.

The office of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs said they expected the bill to pass through the Upper House of Victorian Parliament on Thursday evening.

Victoria’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Natalie Hutchins, told NITV News earlier on Thursday: “We are well on our way towards a Treaty with Victoria’s First People and achieving true reconciliation, healing the wounds of the past".

“There’s been lots of debate,” Ms Hutchins told NITV News outside Parliament.

“Fortunately, the debate that’s been against the treaty process has focussed in on the federal government needing to do one instead," she added.

“But we know the federal government isn’t active in this space and haven’t indicated that they will.”

The Minister said the historic treaty bill will provide a pathway to a new relationship with Australia's First Peoples. 

“Those that are arguing in favour of the treaty process are being extremely respectful, acknowledging the history and the culture of Aboriginal Victorians… and that acknowledging a treaty is really a way of moving forward.

Meanwhile Greens MP Lidia Thorpe told NITV News she had "mixed emotions" in lead up to the vote.

“It’s been a hard journey, I suppose, in terms of trying to convince government and your own mob that sovereignty is important that Elders are important.”

“If it goes through, there’s some work to do to keep the government honest.”

Now that the Government has passed the legislation, Ms Thorpe said she would continue to “keep them to account”. 

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