Page 715 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 26 February 2013
soon to be renewed, and the recently reported outcomes of the ACT elected body hearings from 2011.
The elected body has an important role in ensuring that programs and services across the whole of the ACT government are effective as well as accessible for the majority of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT. I look forward to working collaboratively with the elected body to achieve better outcomes for the territory’s Indigenous people.
I also note that the role of the elected body is challenging at the best of times. Therefore, any improvements that can be made to the capacity of the body should be at least considered by government. The changes proposed in this amendment bill are intended to strengthen the position of the elected body. This is to be achieved by improving the level of participation in elections and increasing the awareness of the body within the wider community. It is sensible to have the election process coincide with NAIDOC Week, a time when the Indigenous community is more active and the wider community is more attentive to Indigenous issues in the local community.
I also note that the amendments are strongly supported by the elected body and are also recommended by Elections ACT as it addresses some of the inconsistencies between the act as it currently stands and the Electoral Act 1992.
The Canberra Liberals will support the bill before us today, and I look forward to engaging in meaningful dialogue with the elected body and other Indigenous organisations over the coming years.
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (10.42): I too rise to support this bill. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body has an essential role in Canberra as part of the first nation’s community, gathering views and consulting and then presenting the interests of the community to government.
The elected body was a driving force in the creation of the ACT employment strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, which was launched in 2011. As my colleague Mr Wall has noted, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body also championed the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice agreement signed by the Attorney-General and the chair of the elected body in September 2010.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body Amendment Bill (No 2) is another result of elected body advice. Members said that having the election in NAIDOC Week when the community comes together to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture would give community members the best chance to meet candidates and to vote. The members also supported a longer campaign period to give candidates a better opportunity to share their message, engage with the community and address concerns. These are sensible improvements incorporated in the bill so that the three-yearly elections will coincide with NAIDOC week in July.
The last Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body election was held between 11 April and 18 May 2011. With the passing of this bill, the next election voting period will run through NAIDOC Week in July 2014. Holding the ballot when