Page 2546 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

The ACT is committed to a democratically elected body that represents the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community. We made that commitment in the election and we are moving forward with it, with consultations about to begin. The commonwealth has indicated to us that it will not assist us in meeting this commitment, despite earlier advising that it would provide financial support to states and territories as they develop appropriate consultative arrangements to replace ATSIC regional councils. Indeed, I discussed this matter with Senator Amanda Vanstone and she initially indicated that she would have no difficulty in supporting an elected body in the ACT but the commonwealth has now moved away from that position. The commonwealth government does not view the establishment of a democratically elected body as appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can establish any other sort of representative body you wish, and will be supported by the commonwealth, except a democratically elected one.

The federal minister for indigenous affairs, Senator Vanstone, has just announced details of regional representation arrangements that are emerging around Australia. She announced with some pride that arrangements had been finalised to replace 10 of the 35 regions covered by the ATSIC regional councils Australia wide. That is 10 out of 35. As of tomorrow, 25 regions, including the ACT and Queanbeyan region, will not be represented by indigenous people. Given that the commonwealth announced its intention to abolish ATSIC in April last year, some 14 months ago, you could hardly accuse it of proceeding with great haste to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are adequately represented.

These replacement arrangements are not elected bodies. Yes, there may be consultation and there may be input. But as we have seen with the establishment of the commonwealth shared responsibility agreements there is an inequality of power and resources in these so-called partnerships that must render this consultation less than ideal. These arrangements do not see black and white Australia coming together as equals, whatever the rhetoric. In the worst case, they seem little more than a return to the paternalism of the past. Certainly they fulfil few of the criteria of true reconciliation. Mr Speaker, today is a truly sad and regrettable day, not only for indigenous Australians but also for all Australians who seek a better and fairer future for indigenous Australians.

Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

Estimates 2005-2006—Select Committee

Responses to questions on notice

MR SPEAKER presented the following papers:

Estimates 2005-2006—Select Committee—Responses—

Questions on notice Nos 167 and 181.

Questions taken on notice by the Minister for Urban Services and the Minister for Health from Dr Foskey.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .