• sovereignty;
  • Australia;
  • differend;
  • indigenous peoples

The article argues that sovereignty in Australia is as yet incomplete, but that full sovereignty could be achieved through engagement with the indigenous Aboriginal ‘first nations’. First, the inter-constitution of the concepts of sovereignty and politics is outlined. Then the unfinished character of sovereignty since white settlement is examined, indicating the default nature of the sovereignty settlement. The challenge arising from complex indigenous claims to sovereignty is then explored through two elements of a differend, or power differential, which has excluded indigenous peoples from meaningful recognition as political actors. The meaning of sovereignty in the broad field of indigenous claims is then analysed. Finally, a proposal for constitutional amendment is outlined, building both upon Aboriginal self-understandings as belonging to specific nations and groups and upon the logic of the history of white settlement. Constitutional revision which takes account of these histories provides an opportunity to extend the scope of the parties who are federated. Such a process could stimulate debate that generates a meaningful Australian sovereignty settlement identity for both indigenous and non-indigenous communities.