” Because in the end it is not the Prime Minister’s voice or the Opposition Leader’s voice that should be heard on this day, on this issue. It is the voice of the First Australians.
It is the voice of over 60,000 years of culture, of story, of community, of kinship.
It is the voice articulating ‘the torment of our powerlessness’ from the Uluru Statement that must be heard.
Over 60,000 years of love for this country, their country, our country. The continent we share.
Enshrining the Voice in our Constitution is a great and unifying mission – more than a century overdue.
But that recognition is not the end of the road. It must be the clarion bell of a change from what has been.
Enshrining the Voice to Parliament will be the work of one successful referendum.
But listening to the Voice – ensuring the Voice is heard in this House and the Senate.
- ensuring the Voice speaks in the design and delivery of policy.
- ensuring the Voice advocates the rights and interests of First Nations peoples. That is a task for national political leadership.
The Coalition of Peaks has already spoken up – and said clearly what Government needs to do to improve services for First Nations people. The three reform priorities are:
- Formal partnerships between government and First Nations people on closing the gap;
- Growing First Nations community-controlled services;
- Improving mainstream service delivery to First Nations
Change begins with listening. ”
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese CTG Speech Parliament House
Download full speech HERE
Download Labor Press Release
” Yes, we are talking about real people.
And I get worried sometime that there’s a bit of an industrial definition to quote Mick Dodson when we talk about statistics.
And on every social scale, of course, Aboriginal people fare the worst. The disappointment today is that the two targets that are on track; and that being Year 12 attainment and four-year-old’s going to preschool, were the same targets that were on track last year.
The other five targets still remain elusive.
What is positive is that the partnership that has been forged between the Coalition of Peak organisations and the Federal Government is important.
And I am hopeful that the new targets in that partnership will bear fruit. “
Linda Burney Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians : See Video and transcripts part 1 below
” If we want to see real progress on Closing the gap, we must properly understand how the consequences of dispossession; the removal from country and culture; the misguided policies – no matter how well-intentioned – have transcended generations and can still be seen and felt today.
We cannot understand the challenges of today, if we do not understand that their causes remain rooted in the past.
We must stop repeating the mistakes of the past. We must genuinely listen to First Nations Australians.
We welcome the partnership between the Coalition of Peaks and Government.
And Labor looks forward to supporting new and ambitious targets and structural changes to close the gap, including in the important areas of child removal and incarceration.”
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy : See Video and press release Part 2 Below
” Today has been about closing the gap.
Today, let me acknowledge and pay tribute to those who show untiring leadership on the front lines where the gaps are wide and stark.
Those who bear a heavy burden and toil day and night to care for children at risk.
Those unsung heroes who soldier on, sometimes at personal risk, and unsupported by adequate resources.
There goes real leadership, and I salute them all “
Senator Patrick Dodson
” Today I spoke about the 2020 Closing The Gap Report and took up some of the issues raised.
Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory have told the Government they do not want a mandatory cashless debit card and they want CDP fixed.
The Government need to listen to the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.
Its time the deafness stopped!
Part 1 Linda Burney Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians
Video above CTG Lunch address : below in Parliament
Transcipt below SkyNews
ASHLEIGH GILLON, HOST: Well, as we’ve been hearing today, the Prime Minister has vowed to overhaul efforts to close the gap after it was revealed only two of seven targets are on track. For more, joining us live now is the Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister, Linda Burney. Linda Burney, appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS: Thanks, Ash.
GILLON: Sadly, every year that this report comes out, and I remember being there in Canberra for the first few reports released under a Labor Government, regardless of which Party is in power, it seems the results are disappointing. How far off are we from having a report we can be proud of? How long do you fear Indigenous people in this country will have to wait for that gap to sufficiently close? Because I know, as you’ve already pointed out today, these are people we’re talking about, not statistics. They’re talking about real people, real lives.
BURNEY: Thank you, Ash. Yes, we are talking about real people. And I get worried sometime that there’s a bit of an industrial definition to quote Mick Dodson when we talk about statistics. And on every social scale, of course, Aboriginal people fare the worst. The disappointment today is that the two targets that are on track; and that being Year 12 attainment and four-year-old’s going to preschool, were the same targets that were on track last year. The other five targets still remain elusive. What is positive is that the partnership that has been forged between the Coalition of Peak organisations and the Federal Government is important. And I am hopeful that the new targets in that partnership will bear fruit. What Anthony Albanese has said today was really important. And that is that we can’t come here year after year and wring our hands.
GILLON: I know you have looked at these targets very closely. Why is it that there is such a gap in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous child mortality rate? I mean, in this day and age, when you look at those statistics, the mind really does boggle as to why there is such a huge gap on that front. We obviously need to do better?
BURNEY: Well, that’s absolutely correct. And the sad reality is the more remote you go, the more further you get from metropolitan areas, that gap, in fact, becomes, as Anthony said, a chasm. Why? Well, that is a very challenging question. But essentially, it’s got a lot to do with poverty, entrenched poverty. It has a basis in racism. It has a basis in history. But it also has a basis in really poor living conditions, the housing, overcrowding, the capacity to be able to care for your child. And of course, it has a lot to do with what happens before a child is born, and the way in which prenatal care is given and undertaken.
GILLON: You did mention the areas where there have been positive steps forward like early childhood and education targets. Those do deserve to be celebrated, don’t they? I mean, these are areas that will hopefully reap rewards in other facets of life in terms of having a longer-term impact for those people.
BURNEY: Yes, these two targets should be celebrated. I’m particularly interested in education it’s a lot of what I’ve done with much of my professional life. Having an increasing number of children doing preschool, Year 4 is important. But the amount of children, whilst that target is going to be, or is on track, to be met, it is less than it was in the past. The Year 12 attainment is important because that means that we’ll have more people going on to university. And once again as Anthony and the Prime Minister both said today, education is such a key to addressing social disadvantage. I think the other important point today is that we shouldn’t just frame this all in a negative way. There are such success stories at the local level. And we should celebrate those successes as well.
GILLON: Well, the Prime Minister certainly talked about that in his address to the Parliament today. He was saying that he doesn’t believe this reporting method really highlights the real progress that is being made. He said the targets don’t celebrate the strengths, the achievements, and aspirations of Indigenous people. Are you optimistic that the new version of the Closing the Gap that he’s talking about to be rolled out next year will result in real term gains because it’s more locally led, that there’s more collaboration, that we will see a truer picture of where we’re at?
BURNEY: Well, I certainly hope so. I haven’t been involved, or the Labor Party hasn’t been involved, at all in setting the new targets, which is, to me, not a terribly bipartisan way to approach things. I understand, though, that there are going to be some targets in the new ones that the Labor Party has been calling for and that’s very positive. I hope it transpires to be that. But it really is important for people to understand that the disadvantage in some communities is not reflected by these targets. These are a national average, of course. And in some targets the unemployment rate, you know, in some places I should say, the unemployment rate, the level of infant mortality, things like suicide, which are not necessarily reflected, are just so high. And quite frankly, a lot of people, Aboriginal people, are just sick of going to funerals. Funerals of people that die way too young.
GILLON: We can absolutely understand that. And obviously everybody hopes that next year we do see better results for these real lives. I know it’s important to keep pointing out over statistics. I am keen for your view on this landmark High Court ruling we saw yesterday. It found that Indigenous people, including those born overseas who are not Australian citizens, that they can’t be considered as aliens under the Constitution. They can’t be deported on character grounds. Are you comfortable with that judgment and the creation of what is essentially a new race-based constitutional distinction?
BURNEY: Well, I don’t see it in the way that you’ve described it, Ash. I think it’s a really important decision. It was a four-three judgment of the High Court. And what I hear in that is a recognition of a very important and unique connection First Peoples have to the country. And when I say the country, I don’t just mean Australia, I also mean to their individual countries. In my case, it would be where Wiradjuri. So, I do think it’s significant. I do think it’s important constitutionally, and has probably some much wider ramifications, which we’re really still unpacking.
GILLON: The Law Council pointed out that this decision really confirms that the question of membership of Aboriginal societies is outside of the legislative palette of the Australian Parliament. Is that as it should be in your view?
BURNEY: I think it’s important that there is finally a recognition which in part is what Mabo, the High Court decision on Mabo did, a recognition that we, Aboriginal people, were the first peoples and are the First Peoples of Australia. And I don’t think we should be afraid of the decision at all.
GILLON: It was interesting to see the Chief Justice, who dissented from the ruling, her argument was that this decision would actually attribute to this group, the kind of sovereignty which was implicitly rejected by the Mabo ruling, it can be read a number of ways, obviously. But when it comes down to it, there are people who are questioning what sort of precedent this sets. I’m suggesting it could be a dangerous precedent, because it could be out of step with, essentially, community views on the Government’s rule of law and not separating one group of people including foreign criminals in this case, when you’re looking at the legal definitions that are being used here, in terms of not letting the Australian law carry out as intended to a certain group of people.
BURNEY: Sure, look, there will be different interpretations. There always is in any particular High Court decision. And as you pointed out, there were dissenting judges. But at the end of the day, it was a four-three ruling. And as I said, I welcome it because I think it reinforces something that is the truth. And that is that Aboriginal people are the original custodians of this country. I welcome the decision. And as we see in the coming days, we’ll work out what other implications there are. But right now, I’ve got Question Time in a couple of minutes. And I welcome this decision very much.
GILLON: We will let you rush off to that, Linda Burney. I appreciate your insight. Wish you the best of luck in terms of the bipartisan approach to closing the gap, which we all know is so important. Linda Burney, appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
BURNEY: Thanks, Ash.
Part 2 Senator Malarndirri McCarthy
It has been 12 years since we commenced this national effort to close the gap in quality of life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
While we have made some progress, these latest results are unacceptable.
The Indigenous child mortality rate is still more than twice that of non-Indigenous children.
Indigenous Australians live around 8 years less than other Australians (8.6 years for men and 7.8 years for women). And this gap is even wider in remote and regional areas.
Alarmingly, Indigenous cancer mortality rates are worsening. Indigenous cancer survival is actually going backwards in absolute terms, not just in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians.
Reading, writing, and maths results and school attendance are still nowhere near good enough.
One in four Indigenous children are performing below minimum standards for reading, and one in five below the minimum standards for numeracy.
These children are being denied a lifetime of opportunity.
On early childhood
While enrolment for early childhood education is on track we are concerned about the significant variation between jurisdictions, in particular Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales.
While attendance rates in early education remain favourable, we are particularly concerned that the Northern Territory rate is almost 20 percentage points behind (73.1 per cent).
This disparity is more pronounced in remote and very remote areas.
These are not just statistics. These are people – sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles.
A direct and secure voice to decision makers will build on the work of the Peaks, and ensure that the issues and perspectives of First Nations people are not left to languish on the fringes.
And genuine commitment means that local and regional services and programs are adequately resourced and properly funded. It is difficult to accept a commitment as genuine when half a billion dollars was cut from the Indigenous affairs budget by this Government.
We are all challenged to do better with more diligence and speed.