National

Qld crossbenchers stand for First Nations

By AAP Newswire

They are politically polar when it comes to policy, but a handful of Queensland crossbenchers have found common ground in how they recognise First Nations Australians in state parliament.

Acknowledging traditional owners at the start of each sitting day became customary in 2007, when former Labor MP Mike Reynolds was Speaker.

Members typically stand for the prayer that comes before the recognition, and then return to their seats.

But One Nation member Steven Andrew, Greens MP Michael Berkman, and Sandy Bolton, the Independent MP for Noosa, are staying on their feet.

"What does it cost to be courteous and what does it cost to have respect? It costs nothing, and for me to do that is no different to the respect we should have for any of our other cultures," Mr Andrew told AAP.

He is a descendant of South Sea Islanders forced into slavery on sugar cane farms in north Queensland, and says standing is his way if bringing a little bit of heart into the way he does politics.

"We're missing a lot of that," he said.

"We're not doing it to isolate ourselves or isolate anyone ... it's a personal thing and it reflects, I suppose, the depth of understanding."

Mr Berkman will this week write to members across the political spectrum, encouraging them to stand.

"Symbolic gestures won't fix the crises in health, housing, over-incarceration and intergenerational trauma, but without respect for traditional owners we won't get anywhere," he said.

It comes after he wrote to Speaker Curtis Pitt, proposing he deliver the acknowledgement standing, rather than seated.

In his response, Mr Pitt said he had noticed some MPs were not silent during acknowledgement, but that he was reluctant to change how symbolic gestures were made.

"To make one change would invite requests for other symbolic acts on different matters or changes or omission to existing ones," he wrote to Mr Berkman.

"I do not wish to reopen debate on the merits of various symbolic acts at this time."

However, Ms Bolton says broader talks about which traditions are included and how they are carried out going forward is needed.

"It's not about saying anyone has to do anything," she said.

"(But) I would like to think that it would encourage a respectful discussion on traditional rituals that we have not only in parliament, but across Queensland."