• Rio Tinto Managing Director Joanne Farrell, Professor Megan Davis and BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie pose together at the announcement in Perth. (AAP)
Resource powerhouses back the Uluru Statement from the Heart as BHP boss says "we cannot stand on the sidelines".
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
31 Jan 2019 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 31 Jan 2019 - 4:30 PM

Australian mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto have pledged support for an Indigenous voice to federal parliament.

The companies together pledged support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

The statement calls for constitutionally enshrined "voice" to parliament representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.

In addition, BHP will contribute about $1 million to the Cape York Partnership's Uluru Education Project, a project which aims to raise awareness among Australians about the proposal.

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BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie told a reconciliation breakfast in Perth that he could no longer stand on the sidelines. 

“The longer I’ve been at BHP, the more certain I’ve become that this great company, like this great country, has unfinished business with the Indigenous peoples of Australia," he said.

Mr Mackenzie said all Australians needed to listen to the First Nation’s people because the insight they hold is "profound".

“Australia has always been a country of people and a place of stories," he said.

"Now, these stories are the voice of the First Nation’s people, that connects the past and the present and embody wisdom, knowledge, and opportunity.”

“Now their voice demands respect and acknowledgement, their voice must be heard.”

Rio Tinto managing director Joanne Farrell said her company would work with Indigenous communities plus state and federal governments to help make the Uluru Statement a reality.

"National conversations around constitutional reform must continue as a priority for our country," she said.

Cobble Cobble woman,  pro-vice chancellor and professor of law at UNSW Professor Megan Davis was also at the breakfast in Perth.

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Constitutional law professor Megan Davis, a Cobble Cobble woman who attended the event, said the  announcement was significant.

"I think today is quite actually a watershed movement," she told NITV.

"To have big business come out, but in particular BHP and Rio Tinto sign on as well, to show this leadership is pretty extraordinary."

The Labor Party has vowed to hold a referendum on the issue if it wins government.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the announcement from the two mining companies would not change the coalition's view on the issue.

"They have a perspective on this issue which isn't born out of politics but one that is born out of their deep co-operation with indigenous people around the country," he said.