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Minister wants laws to kick-start NSW treaty this term

Luke Costin -

NSW's Aboriginal affairs minister wants to legislate a path to treaty before the next election, denying that is at odds with Premier Chris Minns.

The state is among the last Australian jurisdictions to begin treaty talks, a process expected to take up to a decade.

David Harris revealed on Thursday that Labor was aiming to set up an independent treaty commission by mid-2024 that would guide the government's substantive consultations with Indigenous people.

Should that roadmap and the state's Indigenous people recommend a treaty process, Mr Harris said he aspired to have some form of treaty or the pathway to one begin in this term of government.

He denied that was in conflict with Mr Minns' comments this week that any proposed major change would be taken to the 2027 election.

"What he's saying is that, that we would take to an election anything that was actually part of a treaty," Mr Harris told a budget estimates hearing.

"(The premier) wasn't talking about the process. You've got to put in place a process for a negotiation to happen."

Chris Minns has promised major changes for an Indigenous treaty will be taken to the next election.

Mr Minns last week said acting on recommendations from the consultative process would not necessarily be left until the next election.

However, come Monday, he was telling reporters that "major changes to our constitutional arrangements or law" would go to another election.

Mr Harris said he was keen not to pre-empt anything ahead of full and proper consultation with Indigenous people.

That hadn't occurred yet due to elders' focus on the failed federal referendum on a voice to parliament.

Mr Harris said NSW would not aim to emulate other state processes with views on what a treaty would involve varying among Indigenous communities.

"It's clear it's a complex idea," he said.

"In opposition, you have great aspirations and when you get into government, you find there is a whole range of factors that can impact on what you originally said.

"But our commitment is to have that consultation, make sure we understand fully what Aboriginal people want, and then develop our policy from that."

Truth-telling would not be part of the $5 million committed for the treaty commission, he said.

NSW is home to 278,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 35 Aboriginal languages.

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Luke Costin - AAP


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