Page 252 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 2008

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Questions without notice

Indigenous community

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. It follows on from this morning’s debate. Chief Minister, yesterday Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in his apology speech, said:

The nation is calling on us, the politicians, to move beyond our infantile bickering, our point-scoring and our mindlessly partisan politics and to elevate this one core area of national responsibility to a rare position beyond the partisan divide …

Let me take this one step further and take what some may see as a piece of political posturing and make a practical proposal to the opposition on this day …

I therefore propose a joint policy commission, to be led by the Leader of the Opposition and me, with a mandate to develop and implement, to begin with, an effective housing strategy for remote communities over the next five years.

Chief Minister, will you establish a joint bipartisan strategy led by you and me to address continuing issues facing the local indigenous community?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question and his interest in the wellbeing of the ACT indigenous community. There are significant differences between issues facing urbanised indigenous communities and issues faced by remote communities. Nevertheless, as we all know, there are a range of indicators that show the distance yet to be travelled in relation to achieving a genuine equality of opportunity for indigenous people within the Canberra community.

I look forward very much to a bipartisan approach to indigenous issues and affairs within the Australian Capital Territory. It would be refreshing. In that instance, we would not, for instance, see the very puerile and shallow point-scoring engaged in by Mr Seselja in relation to the government’s decision to give consideration to the establishment of an indigenous-specific drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Belconnen. Mr Seselja, in the interests of a genuinely bipartisan approach to reaching the best possible outcomes for indigenous people, might have restrained from the constant attacks on the prospect or notion of establishing the de facto drug facility at Kama in the Molonglo Valley.

That is the sort of puerile, petty politics that has infected issues in relation to indigenous affairs for so long. It would be a refreshing, new approach by Mr Seselja were he to put aside the inclination to play politics with issues in relation to indigenous affairs. I would not hesitate. I give an absolute and categorical undertaking to give very serious consideration to the ways in which we in this place can genuinely engage in a bipartisan way in furthering the interests of indigenous people within the Australian Capital Territory, and indeed throughout Australia.

In that sense, I will give real consideration to the development of some joint policy positions in relation to issues around the intervention in the Northern Territory that Mr Seselja might wish to join me in, as well as in a range of other policy-specific

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