Jon Altman reviews 'A Rightful Place: Race, recognition and a more complete commonwealth (Quarterly Essay 55)' by Noel Pearson

Jon Altman reviews 'A Rightful Place: Race, recognition and a more complete commonwealth (Quarterly Essay 55)' by Noel Pearson

A Rightful Place: Race, Recognition And A More Complete Commonwealth (Quarterly Essay 55)

by Noel Pearson

Black Inc., $19.95 pb, 106 pp, 9781863956819

Whether you love or hate lawyer–activist Noel Pearson’s ideas, you have to admire his chutzpah, his willingness to put his ideas out there for public discussion and debate, even if his own dogmatism sometimes limits his diplomatic engagements.

His latest offering, A Rightful Place, outlines his manifesto for indigenous constitutional recognition. Pearson’s admirable goal is to ensure a more complete commonwealth, with belated recognition of indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution. Pearson believes that this is unfinished business: ‘I hope that the rest of the country, contemplating these reforms, will understand that the suffering and exclusion will continue as long as we don’t perfect the basis of our citizenship.’ This moral reasoning is shared by many indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The critical question is by how many, and this in turn will depend on what form of words will be put into a referendum.

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Published in November 2014, no. 366
Jon Altman

Jon Altman

Jon Altman is an emeritus professor at the Australian National University. His recent publications include Arguing the Intervention (2013) and People on Country, Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures (co-edited, 2012).

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