Indigenous Languages in Parliament and Legislation: Comparing the Māori and Indigenous Australian Experience
Julian R Murphy, 'Indigenous Languages in Parliament and legislation: Comparing the Māori and Indigenous Australian experience' (2020) [July] Māori Law Review
9 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2020
Date Written: July 1, 2020
The Māori language has been used in Aotearoa New Zealand parliamentary debate since the 1860s. By contrast, the first Australian use of an Aboriginal language in Parliament was in 1981. However, in the last two decades Australia has seen a dramatic rise in indigenous language use in federal, state and territory houses of Parliament. More recently, both New Zealand and Australia have commenced the next stage of this process – the enactment of statutes in indigenous languages. Despite the very different paths both countries have taken to incorporating indigenous languages into the lawmaking process, there is great potential for comparative analysis. In particular, the maturity of New Zealand’s bilingual legislative process offers a workable model for Australian parliaments looking to more meaningfully engage in this practice. Conversely, an understanding of Australia’s history of halting and muted multilingualism reveals the strengths of the current New Zealand system. Finally, each country’s recent enactment of indigenous language statutes raise shared but unresolved questions of multilingual statutory interpretation.
Keywords: Indigenous Languages; Māori; Parliament; Legislation
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation