Tasmanian Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell said he was grateful for the thoughts behind his Australia Day award nomination but that he “would be a hypocrite to accept it”.
Mansell has been outspoken about the offensiveness of Australia’s national day celebrating the invasion and dispossession of Australia’s Aboriginal people. He has participated in Invasion Day rallies held by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre for many years.
He called for a treaty between Aboriginal nations and Australia, which should include “land, and an Aboriginal Assembly and eight seats in Federal Parliament”.
He said this could occur without any constitutional change. “The Commonwealth could create an Aboriginal Assembly along ATSIC lines, with added powers of State governments. Most of the 548,370 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in urban settings could choose to vote for the Aboriginal Assembly or vote in the electorate within which they reside. Non-Aborigines living on Aboriginal lands could do the same thing, potentially overcoming an image of an ethnic electorate.”
Mansell called for a change of date for Australia’s national day from January 26. He suggested the date a treaty is made could be the new day of celebration, creating an inclusive day rather than a race-based one.