Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 May 2008) . . Page.. 1416 ..
It is great to see that every member of this Assembly supports this legislation. I noticed a small amount of point scoring across the chamber about who is more committed to Indigenous matters and who is a Johnny come lately to this issue and I think that, for the most part, that is not particularly productive. We should be embracing the initiative of the Chief Minister and really taking up the challenge as an Assembly as a whole and as a community as a whole to ensure that through this mechanism and other mechanisms we actually do something to raise the living standards, the educational standards and the health standards of the Indigenous people who live in the territory and on whose behalf we make laws and policy decisions. This must be a hand-in-hand approach.
Mr Mulcahy likes to drop names on every occasion and talk about his friends in the Indigenous community and his friend in this community and the other community. It is interesting that in quoting from national figures he seems to have got his figures mixed up. When he was talking about whether or not it was desirable to have a national ATSIC, Mr Mulcahy was referring to Warren Mundine, the former national president of the Australian Labor Party. I am sure that Tony Mundine, the former boxer, probably does have views on the appropriateness of a national body to replace ATSIC, but I do not think that they were reported in the context of the summit. Mr Mulcahy probably should make it clear who he was quoting in relation to that body.
In summary, this is a laudable initiative. It has cross-party support in this chamber in the same way that when members of this Assembly came back and reinforced their commitment to an apology, which was a timely thing to do, and to reinforce that commitment in the context of a national apology, there was a high level of cross-party support. It is a shame that when the Liberal opposition reaches out in a bipartisan way on these issues the Chief Minister often chooses to rebuff those approaches. While he thought that it was important to reinforce the apology, it was not so important that he could emulate his national leader and take a bipartisan approach. When the Prime Minister undertook to work with the Liberal and National parties on these issues on the national stage it is unfortunate and a little saddening that the Chief Minister could not do the same here in the ACT. Even though he was given two opportunities to do that, he has not chosen to go down the path of bipartisanship.
This is really not about point scoring. This is about making the lives of Indigenous people in the ACT better and ensuring that they have every opportunity to participate fully, not only in their own community but also in the wider community; that their children are safe and happy in their homes and brought up in families that are functioning and working; that their children are getting every opportunity for education; and that, as they go through life, they will have the same life expectations as the rest of us. I commend the Chief Minister for the initiative. I am proud to support it.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (11.36): This bill has cross-party support. It is appropriate that there be bipartisan support for this. We clearly support the nature of the Chief Minister’s bill, a bill that aims to establish an ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body with a goal of ensuring maximum participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT in the formulation, coordination and