Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 May 2008) . . Page.. 1412 ..
We have come a long way, and I do recognise some of the Chief Minister’s efforts and the ACT government’s efforts, but we can do better and we need to do more. Mr Mulcahy scoffingly said that I believe in Christmas or something, but I believe beyond hope, yes, that we can do better and that this will deliver something for the people of our community.
I will be watching it very closely. I will be monitoring what happens very closely. I do not want it to be just another layer of bureaucracy. I hope that it is not, and if all of us in this place keep an eye on it, then it will not be. I want to see our Aboriginal Indigenous community benefit from this legislation. I want to see improvements, and I am sure that the Chief Minister does as well. I have said before—it is worth repeating—that it must be truly reflective of the Indigenous community. Yes, Mr Mulcahy, I really do hope beyond hope because this thing has to stand as independent as it can in our community—
Mr Mulcahy: I do not think you heard what I told you.
MRS BURKE: You can continue to laugh. I do not. I want the people of this territory at last to have a voice, a proper voice—one that we all listen to, one that we can acknowledge and respect rather than just saying, like we do at every opening of every event that we go to, that we stand on the land of the Ngunnawal people. I want to see more about that. Rather than lip-service, I want to see action. I want to see things actually improve. Let us hope that this is where this legislation will drive us to.
I will leave it there for today, but I will be monitoring it. I will be watching it with great interest. I urge any member of the Indigenous community who has any concerns in the future about the way things are heading to contact any of our offices. We must keep an eye on this body. We must not let it just fall into something that is going to be little more than ATSIC was at a federal level.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.19): I will be supporting this bill and supporting Dr Foskey’s amendments later on. To set the record straight, I was not scoffing at the concept, rather at the notion put forward by Mrs Burke that she had an expectation that things would be approached in this place on a bipartisan and crossbench basis. It was in that respect that I thought she was demonstrating a rather high level of naivety. But I welcome the opposition’s recently found fascination with Indigenous issues. I think it is encouraging and helpful, and I hope it is for the long haul and not for the short term.
I do have some reservations that I will go into detail on about this bill, but I will express my support for the creation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected body. In his presentation speech the Chief Minister said:
The Assembly will recall the unfortunate abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission by the former federal coalition government. It was an action that left Indigenous peoples without an elected voice and even further marginalised them from decision-making and political processes.
In many ways it was unfortunate that this statement was made as this legislation was brought in. Certainly I think the Chief Minister should have been a little more thorough in either his research or his public recollection of the events that led to the abolition of ATSIC. I know he worked in this field as ministerial adviser before being