A ‘Green’ light for Aboriginal rights

A 'Green' light for Aboriginal rights

A statement by NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chairwoman Bev Manton

August 19, 2010

New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Chairwoman Bev Manton is urging all Aboriginal residents of NSW and the country to cast their vote in Saturday's federal election.

"It's imperative that the first peoples of Australia have an informed say in which political party will determine our future, and our children's future," she said.

"By exercising your voting right, you're refusing to remain silent on the issues that matter most in your community - both in the cities and out bush," she said.

During this year's election campaign, NSWALC wrote to all the major parties seeking any fresh policy proposals and a working dialogue.

"It's fair to say, that for the most part, we received very little in return," Ms Manton said.

The 8-page National Liberal Coalition policy was received only days ago, following its launch by Senator Nigel Scullion in Alice Springs.

"It supports the Australian Employment Covenant, blindly back the philosophies of Cape York man Noel Pearson and continues its bipartisan support for the intervention and nation-wide income quarantining. All of these measures are devoid of any independent evidence to back their effectiveness.

"Meanwhile, Labor re-committed to recognising Aboriginal people in the Constitution. It also stands by its own contested interpretation of restoring the suspended Racial Discrimination Act unconditionally - and will continue and strengthen key intervention measures such as welfare quarantining if re-elected.

 "For our people both here in NSW and across the country, the best outcome we can hope for is that the Australian Greens emerge holding the balance of power in the Senate," Ms Manton said.

 "The Greens have sought very successfully to consult meaningfully with Aboriginal people all over Australia, and have produced the most comprehensive and considered Indigenous policy of any political party on Capital Hill," she said.

"They are the only party to oppose the intervention, and provide clear, concise and comprehensive measures and goals outlined in a rights-based policy agenda.

"The Greens want compliance with international agreements and obligations that recognise the rights of Aboriginal people.

"They want equality of access to essential services and development opportunities for our people within a decade.

"They want equality on all major indicators of health, education, training, housing, employment and living standards within a generation.

"These are exactly the outcomes peak organisations like NSWALC continue to fight for.

Chairwoman Manton has also stressed the need for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters to gain an understanding of the political process not only at the federal level, but also locally.

"It's essential to engage and create a working dialogue with local MPs too. It might be federal election time this weekend, but it's at the local level where lasting inroads can be forged and attitudes changed.

"NSWALC urges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - and those many non Indigenous Australians who care about our shared future - to vote for the Greens on Saturday in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

"A vote for the Greens on the weekend is a vote for Aboriginal rights," Ms Manton said.

CONTACT CHRIS MUNRO AT NSWALC: 0438 760 242