Posted on August 29, 2023

Indigenous Activist Calls for Seventh State for Aboriginals

Olivia Day, Daily Mail, August 28, 2023

An Indigenous leader has proposed Aboriginal people form a seventh Australian state as he slams Anthony Albanese’s ‘stupid’ Voice to Parliament.

Michael Mansell, a proud Palawa man, lawyer and activist, says land should be returned to First Nations people so they can form their own independent state.

The people belonging to the seventh state would be ruled by an Aboriginal government that would have the same governing powers as the other states.

‘Return the land to the Indigenous people and allow us to form our own Aboriginal government that’s part of the constitution, and we have the same powers as the state government,’ Mr Mansell told SBS program The Point: Referendum Roadtrip.

‘The constitution then protects us against interference.

‘But how can you get that discussion going when you’re talking about some stupid advisory body called a Voice?

‘We don’t need another body. We just need people to listen to what we’re saying.’

In 2017, Mr Mansell introduced the idea of a seventh state during an interview with the ABC, where he said the proposition was founded on the idea that ‘every people has a right to live within its own territory in external freedom and liberty’.

‘Providing for a predominantly Aboriginal inhabited or dominated state would not alter the rules. It is applying the rules,’ he said.

The Australian constitution allows the Federal Parliament powers to create new states out of territory already belonging to existing states.

Mr Mansell said large tracts of land already owned by Aboriginal people could form an independent state that would also be eligible for Commonwealth funding.

He said non-Indigenous people could travel freely through the new state and would be welcome to live there permanently as citizens.

Mr Mansell was a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017 and is a widely respected First Nations activist, lawyer and author.

He is the Chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania.

On January 26 this year, Mr Mansell declared no professional sport should be played on Australia Day in respect to First Nations people.

‘Sporting bodies have a responsibility to take the lead. They shouldn’t be playing on January 26, any sport, they should get rid of the day,’ he said.

His comments came after Australian cricketer and Mururari woman Ashleigh Gardner raised concerns about playing a Twenty20 match against Pakistan in Hobart on Australia Day.

Cricket Australia earlier this year released a statement saying it accepts the date is ‘challenging for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for some is considered a day of mourning’.

The organisation stopped referring to January 26 as Australia Day in 2021.

But Mr Mansell said sporting officials should go further and make concrete changes such as rescheduling matches to indicate their support of First Nations people.

‘Sport should not be taking advantage of a holiday set aside because of what happened to Aboriginal people,’ he said.

Mr Mansell is also known for presenting Her Majesty The Queen with a petition demanding that land be returned to Aboriginal Australians back in 1977.

At the time, the petition to the Tasmanian government was falling on deaf ears.

‘So they took me up, and she asked what the problem was. I said ‘I’ve got a petition that they won’t let me show you. We think you should be doing something about it,’ Mr Mansell wrote for NITV.

‘I made it plain that I was Aboriginal, that the Crown had taken our country, we got absolutely nothing back, and it wasn’t acceptable.’

‘She listened to me, and she understood what I was saying. All this caused a problem with the dignitaries because she had walked past them to come and see me!’

Mr Mansell presented the petition to the Queen, along with a box containing Aboriginal artefacts, including ‘beads and trinkets’.

‘I said, ‘Here you can have this, now give our Country back.’ I was half-joking, but she kept a straight face!’ he recalled.

He said the Queen’s Secretary would not let him give Her Majesty his petition but assured him it would not be ignored.

Mr Mansell described his meeting with the Queen as a significant breakthrough for indigenous Tasmanians as it put the issue of land rights front and centre of politics.

He also described the encounter as a turning point as ministers could no longer ignore the issue once it was raised with the Queen.

The Tasmanian parliament passed Aboriginal land rights legislation 18 years later, with Mr Mansell insisting the legislation would not have passed without the meeting.