“Each of us can feel that our ancestry is important, and each of us can celebrate this ancestry in our own way. Some celebrate ancestors who were here millennia ago, some celebrate ancestors who were on the First Fleet, and some celebrate ancestors who came on a more recent leaky boat. But no one person’s ancestry is more important than another person’s,” said Senator Leyonhjelm.
“Every human being in Australia is a person, equal before the law. Giving legal recognition to characteristics held by certain persons – particularly when those characteristics are inherent, like ancestry – represents a perverse sort of racism. Although it appears positive, it still singles some people out on the basis of race.”
Senator Leyonhjelm also argued that some Aboriginals do not have a relationship with traditional lands and water. “Statements like this belong in scholarly research, not legislation. Ever since the Enlightenment we have accepted that questions of fact are resolved by evidence, not by decree. You can’t legislate a fact.”
His comments were immediately dismissed as “pathetic” by Reconciliation Australia co-chair Tom Calma, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said it was too early for anyone to be so trenchantly opposed to the process.
“Everyone is entitled to their view but he just needs a bit of education,” Mr Calma said.
Senator Leyonhjelm’s remarks were made during a speech in the Senate. They could just as easily apply to NZ as Australia.