Put our First Peoples First

Tonight in Brisbane I am launching a campaign aimed at making Indigenous issues a much greater priority in political and public debate. A key part of the campaign is to try to ensure the voices of Indigenous Australians are heard much more frequently and prominently in those debates, so the public forum accompanying the campaign…

Continue reading →

Wet Tropics world heritage

On Wednesday afternoon, our Senate Committee was standing in the richly red dirt, with Uluru looming in the background, listening to the land’s traditional owners speak of their concerns and the opportunities for their people and the region’s environment. On Thursday morning, we were standing around a stream in the rainforest of Mossman Gorge, north…

Continue reading →

more Senate Estimates Committees

Senate Estimates Committees are happening again this week, with departmental officers being questioned on a range of topics. Some issues that will undoubtedly receive scrutiny will be wastefulness in defence spending and deployment, and growing controversies at Australia’s flagship science body, the CSIRO. The Community Affairs Committee should be covering indigenous issues tomorrow. I imagine…

Continue reading →

Accept the law of the land you settle in

A story on the front page of The Australian last Friday suggests the Howard Government is planning to use the current debate on violence in indigenous communities to not only further extinguish aboriginal culture, but try to go even further and push for full-blown monoculturalism – reportedly even if it is racially discriminatory. The story…

Continue reading →

Abuse in Indigenous communities

Yesterday’s Senate Committee hearing into petrol sniffing in Adelaide was overlaid by new salacious media controversy detailing terrible allegations of sexual assault and abuse of very young children in some aboriginal communities. One of the people who gave evidence to the inquiry was Kate Reynolds, a former Democrat MP who lost her seat at the…

Continue reading →

I is for Immigration AND Indigenous (and Indonesia)

One aspect of the controversies surrounding the culture of the Department of Immigration Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) that I haven’t seen mentioned is how it reflects on the sort of deal indigenous Australians are getting. The second ‘I’ in DIMIA stands for Indigenous, and the recently removed Secretary of the Department, Bill Farmer, oversaw…

Continue reading →

Noel Pearson & Tectonic Shifts

When Aden Ridgeway’s term in the Senate expires at the end of this month, I take on the role of the Democrats’ spokesperson on indigenous issues. My main goal in that role will be to try to help get these issues more continually and seriously onto the political and public agenda. There is some reported…

Continue reading →