Leadership Needed

7 August, 2010

Both Major Parties Need to Show More Leadership on Aboriginal Issues

The Australian Labor Party and the Liberal-National Coalition need to show more leadership and commitment on Aboriginal issues in the new Federal Parliament.

Both sleepwalked through the recent federal election campaign on the major issues affecting our people and neither can claim a mandate on our behalf.

This is why the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council called on Aboriginal people in New South Wales to vote for the Australian Greens in both the House of Representatives and the Senate on August 21.

The fact that the balance of power in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will now lie with the Independents and the Greens is, in our view, a victory for democracy.

It will ensure a minority Federal Government, Labor or Liberal-National Coalition, will have to work with both to provide stable government or be forced back to a fresh poll in the House of Representatives which, in our view, should be a last resort.

The situation will ensure the voice of the Independents and the Greens, in both policy and parliamentary procedure, can no longer be marginalised or ignored by the vested interests in both major parties.

The interests and aspirations of our people have, to date, suffered a similar fate.

We believe the makeup of the new Federal Parliament holds the promise of a timely advance in the rights and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We would certainly hope that, if nothing else, the voice of the Independents, and others, in the new Parliament will assist in ensuring both major parties stop painting all the voices of the Aboriginal population of Australia, as the Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, has repeatedly said with the "one brush of Noel Pearson."

The land rights movement in New South Wales shares his concern and frustration about the inordinate attention given to the Northern Territory and Cape York in the current Closing the Gap strategies and related issues.

We believe our most populous communities along the Eastern seaboard and their leaders have been, and continue to be, ignored in the policy settings from both major political parties.

We note Mr. Pearson's call in The Australian today for Mr. Oakeshott to back Tony Abbott to from a minority Coalition Government while describing him as a "once in a generation conservative who could lead the way on reconciliation."

Mr Oakeshott's decision is a matter for him but Mr. Pearson's experience of Mr. Abbott is certainly not ours.

He has consistently ignored the work of the land rights movement in NSW, and the well being of the most populous Aboriginal communities in our state, despite the fact they are in his own backyard.

This is a matter of public record.

Bev Manton


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.