NACCHO political alert:In Closing the Gap Governments must be judged on results;Scullion


Senator Nigel Scullion pictured above centre talking with the mob at  Utopia and Ampilawatja NT along with now Chief Minister Adam Giles (left) PICTURE STORY@ CAAMA

In Closing the Gap, Governments should not be judged simply on good intentions or the amount of money spent, they should be judged on results, Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion said.

“Minister Macklin’s speech about progress in closing the gap as usual focused on the money spent, bureaucratic structures and plans and performance measured against inputs rather than outputs,” Senator Scullion said.

 “I agree with Macklin when she says that after five years now is an appropriate time to reflect on what Labor has achieved. Arguable progress in only three of the six closing the gap targets is not much of a scorecard.

 “Closing the gap is a bi‐partisan task and we share the Government’s good intentions absolutely, but in all things delivery has never been a strong suit of the Gillard Government.

 “I also agree with Macklin that we need sustained change over time, but you cannot simply flick the switch to autopilot and walk away. You can’t simply cough up the money and then let the bureaucrats waste it.

 “Saying sorry was an important national milestone and generated great expectations. Kevin Rudd himself declared on the day that progress in housing would be his priority. Their SIHIP housing project in the NT in particular has been a disaster with the task of eliminating overcrowding still ahead of us despite the massive expenditure.

 “The reduction in the infant mortality rate has been on track to achieve the target since 1998 under the Howard government. Halving the gap for indigenous students in year 12 was also headed in that direction before the Rudd/Gillard Government came to power.

 “They say they will achieve the target for access to early education for 4 year olds in remote areas.

 Frankly I do not believe the spin, it smacks of more bureaucratic smoke and mirrors. The centrepiece of their remote area strategy was to be the construction of 38 preschools – but it turns out that most of these are located in non‐remote areas and it is not clear how many have been built.

 While they praise themselves for the supposed number of enrolments the Prime Minister herself admitted that the results did not indicate the level of actual attendance‐and that is what really counts.

 “The gap in the unemployment rate has only reduced by less than two percent since 2006. Macklin did not mention the abysmal NAPLAN results in her speech as they show the education gap has gone backwards in 14 of the 20 NAPLAN indicators since 2011. Sadly the life expectancy gap appears not to have demonstrably changed.

 In Closing the Gap, Governments should not be judged simply on good intentions or the amount of money spent, they should be judged on results, Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion said.

NACCHO POLITICAL ALERT: Download Act of recognition speech Prime Minister’s speech .

Julia PM

Photo NACCHO historial

Speaker, this Parliament is the gathering place of our nation’s representatives.

 But we stand on land that was, from time immemorial, the gathering place of the Ngunnawal people.

 So I speak here today, as I always do, in a spirit of friendship and respect for the First Australians, and with honour to Elders past and present.


 I’m also conscious that on this special anniversary, we acknowledge the courage that enabled Kevin Rudd to offer the Apology and the generosity of spirit that enabled Indigenous Australians to accept it.

 We are only able to consider this Act of Recognition and constitutional change because the Apology came first.

 Speaker, the Constitution of our Commonwealth came into force on January 1, 1901.

 It was the start of a new century and a new year.

 Alfred Deakin wrote that “Never on this side of the world was there a New Year’s Day with such high expectations.”

 Those expectations were high because with the Constitution had come Australia’s birth as a nation.

 But not all our people shared those expectations.

 In the decade of deliberation that created our Constitution, there were conventions and debates across this land.

 But there is no record of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person taking part.

 Indigenous people did not ordain our Constitution nor contribute to its drafting.

 They had no opportunity to vote for it, and yet all were affected by what it said and what it failed to say.

 They were affected by provisions that even by the standards of the time seem questionable and strike us now as harsh and inhumane.

 But they were also affected by the “great Australian silence” which fell upon our founding document.

 Because among the 128 sections of the Constitution, there is no acknowledgement of Australia’s First Peoples.

 No mention of their dispossession.

 Their proud and ancient cultures.

 Their profound connection to the land.

 Or the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story.

 Speaker, in 1967, the people of Australia sought restitution and repair, but their work was incomplete.

 Today, a new generation dreams of finishing the job with the same idealism and the same means.

 Not through protests or law suits.

 But by this Parliament summoning every Australian elector to a referendum.

 And there, in the sanctity of the polling booth, to inscribe their agreement to a successful constitutional amendment.

 On that day, as the polls close and the ballots are counted, individual assent will merge into a collective “yes”.

 In that way, we will forge an accord – bi-partisan and unanimous – to right an old and grievous wrong.

 A step that will take us further on the path of Reconciliation than we have ever ventured before.

 Speaker, voting is the solemn act of our democratic order.

 But amending the Constitution is even more profound, because it occurs so rarely and succeeds even more rarely still.

 At the election of 2007, it seemed the prospect of constitutional recognition was very close at hand, supported, as it was, by both major parties.

 But in difficult and volatile times, we have not yet found the settled space in our national conversation to make the promised referendum a reality.

 So the government has advanced this Bill for an Act of Recognition.

 To assure Indigenous people that our purpose of amendment remains unbroken.

 And to prepare the wider community for the responsibility that lies ahead.

 This Bill is thus an act of preparation and anticipation.

 In this legislation, we, the nation’s 226 legislators will serve as proxies for Australia’s 14 million voters, bridging the time between now and referendum day.

 That is why this Bill has a sunset clause of two years.

 So that the 44th Parliament can achieve what the 42nd and 43rd have been unable to do.

 Speaker, this Bill introduced by my friend and colleague, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has two main purposes:

 Firstly, it acknowledges in law that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the first inhabitants of this nation.

 It acknowledges they occupied this land from time immemorial – they honoured and cared for it, and do so to this day.

 Secondly, this Bill seeks to foster momentum for a referendum for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

 The Bill gives the Parliament some of the tools it will need to build the necessary momentum for constitutional change.

 These include a legislative requirement for a review of public support for a referendum, to be tabled here in Parliament six months before any referendum bill is proposed.

 This Bill, and the referendum to come, are closely informed by the work of the Expert Panel, itself an outstanding example of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians working together.

 The Expert Panel’s report was informed by intensive consultations across the nation – from Sydney to Ceduna, Longreach to Launceston.

 That work gives us the solid foundation upon which to build parliamentary and community consensus.

 I again thank the Expert Panel, ably co-chaired by Patrick Dodson and Mark Leibler, for its important work and I acknowledge the Panel members who are present today.

 But ultimately, a Referendum Bill will be the creation of this Parliament.

 So I also commend the work to date of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

 And I look forward to their continued work in the months ahead to prepare the way for the Parliament, most likely in the course of 2014, to debate and pass the Referendum Bill.

 This is the critical work because it will require all of us in this Parliament to find consensus around the wording and the content of the proposed constitutional amendment.

 Speaker, the work of preparation is vital and timely.

 But, ultimately, recognition is not a matter for politicians or experts.

 Instead, the Constitution belongs to the people.

 It was created by them.

 It serves them.

 And it is amendable by them alone.

 So this is a task in which all Australians must share.

 I do believe the community is willing embrace the justice of this campaign because Australians understand that Indigenous culture and history are a source of pride for us all.

 But I also believe that their good will needs to be galvanised.

 Some of the work of building consensus is being led by the Joint Select Committee.

 Some of the work is being led by Reconciliation Australia and other organisations that are building grassroots support for change.

 The Government is investing $10 million in this community-based work.

 But most of all, the push for change is increasingly being led by ordinary Australians – Indigenous and non-Indigenous  alike.

 This morning I met with some remarkable young Indigenous leaders who are deeply engaged in the campaign for recognition.

 Men and women who were not born in 1967 but who share the spirit and optimism of those days.

 They will be among the many Australians actively working in communities around the nation in coming weeks and months.

 I trust that we will be out there too, every one of us, in our electorates, doing the same.

 Campaigning with optimism – campaigning with hope.

 Speaker, the experience of 1967 gives us abundant cause for such hope.

 In an era where the nation was perhaps less open and socially-aware than our own time, that ballot yielding the highest “Yes” vote ever recorded in an Australian referendum – almost 91 per cent.

 I believe we can do it again.

 This year the youngest voters of that referendum are turning 67.

 I hope they will soon be able to return to the ballot box, perhaps with their children and grandchildren, and again make history.

 After all, a foundation document is more than just a set of rules and procedures.

 It can articulate a nation’s sense of itself.

 But our nation cannot articulate such a sense of self when there is still great unanswered questions in our midst.

 How do we share this land and on what terms?

 How adequate are our national laws and symbols to express our history and our hopes for the future?

 We must never feel guilt for the things already done in this nation’s history.

 But we can – and must – feel responsibility for the things that remain undone.

 No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation’s fabric than amending our nation’s founding charter.

 So I commend this Bill to the House as a deed of Reconciliation in its own right.

 And as a sign of good faith for the referendum to come.

 We are bound to each other in this land and always will be.

 Let us be bound in justice and dignity as well.


The apology 5 years on anniversary speech :was it a landmark moment in our history?



Sydney 8 February:Minister Jenny Macklin MP

I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land on which we are meeting this morning, and to their elders past and present.

Thank you Donna (Ms Donna Ingram) for your warm welcome to country.

Members of the Stolen Generations and other distinguished guests here this morning.

I would like to pay a particular tribute to Michael (McLeod) for organising this breakfast each year to mark the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, in particular the Stolen Generations.

The Apology was a landmark moment in our history.

One of those rare moments when we all remember exactly where we were at the precise time the long awaited words were said.

We remember who we hugged.

And who we cried with.

The power of that moment – the words and the sentiments – are enduring.

This is the great achievement of the Apology.

A deep ongoing commitment across the nation to ensure that the profound sorrow expressed on that day leads to an honest understanding and a brighter future.

On behalf of the nation that day, Kevin Rudd apologised for the forcible removal of children.

For the loss of families, communities and culture.

We know that loss cannot be made up.

But we can make sure that it never happens again.

And we can make sure that we never forget.

Five years on from that landmark day, we now have dedicated resources to ensure just that.

The Stolen Generations Testimonies website and the National Library’s Oral History Project both contain personal stories from survivors.

I commend these two sites to all to better understand the pain and suffering inflicted on generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To better understand the loss of people torn away from their culture and their communities.

To better understand why we had to say sorry.

Why we were sorry then.

And why the healing continues now.

As Debra Hocking, one of the Stolen Generations Survivors, says:

For us to heal as a country these are the stories we need to share.

The healing happens through practical activities as well.

On the first Anniversary of the Apology, the Government set up the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation.

We committed more than $26 million to support the Foundation in community based healing initiatives to address the traumatic legacies of past mistakes.

I am pleased that representatives of the Foundation are here today and I commend their work.

Five years ago, we also set up a comprehensive process, a national plan, to close the gap.

To work for change that means future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lead healthier, longer and better lives.

This week, the Prime Minister tabled the latest Closing the Gap report in Parliament.

And we received some very encouraging news.

The first of our targets will be reached this year – meaning more four year olds in remote communities have access to pre-school or kindergarten.

Giving them the chance at a stronger start in life.

So that they can start school ready to learn.

Many of you here would already know my passion for ensuring we are providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with a great education.

That we are supporting children to go to school every day.

And I know that many of you, members of the Stolen Generations, who did not have the opportunity for a great education, share my passion.

We know that sustained change will take time.

We know that the situation in many areas of Indigenous disadvantage remains critical.

But our shared resolve is making a difference.

And as we continue our journey of healing, we work to right another omission.

To recognise the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our nation’s constitution.

As Stolen Generations member and amazing song writer Archie Roach said recently on Q&A:

When the Constitution was drawn up it never included Aboriginals and we’re still not included in the Constitution.

Until that is addressed, we truly can’t go forward as a people, as a nation and as Australians as a whole.

I agree that it is wrong that the nation’s foundation document is silent on this vital part of our culture.

And our Government is committed to meaningful constitutional reform, that recognizes the hopes and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Of course, we know that constitutional change in Australia is no easy matter.

It’s why we are calling on the spirit of 1967 to build the necessary support for constitutional change.

So that we once again see passionate Australians sharing the message of change across the community.

As a step towards a successful referendum, we expect the Australian Parliament to soon pass the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill.

This Bill recognises the unique place of Indigenous Australians.

It contains a sunset clause to provide an impetus for a future parliament to reassess how the campaign for change is travelling and when the time is right to hold a successful referendum.

The Bill of Recognition builds on the enormous good will for positive change unleashed by the Apology.

It builds on the sense of togetherness we experience as a nation on the 13th of February five years ago.

A togetherness we demonstrated as perhaps at no other time in our history.

A new-found mutual respect.

To mark this fifth anniversary more than 150 community organisations around Australia will celebrate as we are this morning.

They will be paying tribute to the Stolen Generations.

For their courage and their resilience.

As the Testimonials website says, many are still finding their way home.

I would like to thank the Healing Foundation for its work in organising these community anniversary functions to recognise their ongoing journey.

The Foundation theme this year is Heal Our Past, Build Our Future.

This is the true mission of the Apology.

To heal our past and build our future.

I commit myself and our Government to this ongoing task.

Thank you.

Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap Statement and report 2013;NACCHO downloads

Julia PM


On behalf of the nation, I present the fifth annual Closing the Gap Statement.

Full speech download

Full report download

I am here today because the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of this country have decided to walk the path of Reconciliation together.

 Because the workers of Wave Hill said no and the voters of 1967 said yes.

 Because in a proud Labor tradition, Gough Whitlam poured the soil and Bob Hawke handed Uluru back.

 Because Paul Keating inscribed native title in our laws and Kevin Rudd said our nation was Sorry.

 Because this Government intends that our Constitution must speak for all Australians and the gap that separates our opportunities and living standards must be closed.

  Closing the Gap is a plan of unprecedented scale and ambition.

 A plan not only to uplift the lives of Indigenous Australians but to do so in a shared endeavour of partnership and respect.

 That high level of ambition commits us to two decades of annual reckoning until we bridge the gulf that stands between us.

 Few if any of the men and women who sit in this Parliament today will still be here when a future Prime Minister delivers the final Closing the Gap Statement in 2031.

 A short walk to this despatch box that we hope will mark the end of a monumental journey.

 Wherever we are on that day, the people of this land will want to hear one thing.

 That we have, at last, accorded Indigenous Australians the health care, education, job opportunities and community services they deserve.

 Above all, the opportunity unknown to many Indigenous people today – the chance to grow old.

 These goals require us to raise our eyes and lift our expectations; to invest, plan and think for the future.

 It is the work of an entire generation and work that has begun with us.

 So I account to the Parliament and people of Australia today.

 This is the fifth such Statement since the task began in 2008.

 Already we know that some targets, like life expectancy, will be enormously challenging to meet, even with almost two decades still to run.

 On others, progress has been encouragingly swift.

 Across the board, our sources of data and information are stronger than ever before.

 The report I make today is especially significant because this year, the very first of the target deadlines established five years ago falls due.

 In 2008 we pledged to deliver access to early childhood education to all four-year-olds in remote communities within five years.

 Well, the five years are up.

 I’m proud to say – we’ve got it done.

Download the full speech here

Download the Closing the Gap Prime ministers report here