State Parliament could soon start each day with a recognition of Aboriginal country under a push by Labor, bringing WA into line with the rest of Australia.
Under the proposal being investigated by the Procedures and Privileges parliamentary committee, both chambers would start each day with an acknowledgement the land MPs are meeting on belongs to the Whadjuk-Noongar people.
Prominent indigenous elder Robert Isaacs, who has advised the committee on the matter, has called for the recognition to be the first order of business each day before prayers.
WA is the only Parliament which does not have a regular recognition of country at the start of sittings. Both houses start the day with a prayer.
In Canberra, the House of Representatives and Senate start each day with an acknowledgement of country.
The move to change the procedure comes after the recognition of Aboriginal people as the first West Australians in the State’s Constitution in 2015.
Dr Isaacs said the tradition around acknowledgements or welcome to country was that they were the first item on the agenda.
“It’s always been done that way — when I do my welcome to country here in Perth, I’m always the first one up and then the show goes on after that,” he said.
“Here we are in 2017 and it’s taken this long for the Parliament of WA to do an acknowledgement of country.”
Dr Isaacs said if State Parliament moved ahead with the plan, it should also be rolled out to local councils.
“If the State Parliament can do it, than local councils should be following the trend, it’s the first tier of government,” he said.
“There’s so many Aboriginal people in these councils, they play a very important role in keeping their culture and tradition and heritage in place and a mark of respect is what we talk about here.”
Speaker Peter Watson confirmed the matter was being investigated by the committee, which he chairs.
“We hope to have a decision very soon,” he said.
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