Marion, stay strong for your people – Minister Macklin mediate over town camps

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Marion, stay strong for your people - Minister Macklin mediate over town camps                     

June 4, 2009

The decision by former Northern Territory Deputy chief Minister Marion Scrymgour to quit the Labor Government in the Northern Territory and sit as an independent in the NT Parliament should be applauded by Aboriginal people throughout Australia, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson, Bev Manton, said today.

"It is rare for an elected politician to put their principles ahead of their personal or political interests. This is clearly what Marion has decided to do," Ms Manton said.

"It is also clear from the media reports over the past week that she has been placed under enormous personal and political pressure over the NT Government's controversial homelands policy.

"That pressure will no doubt intensify as a result of Ms Scrymgour's decision today to quit the party and continue to seek significant concessions over the policy from the cross benches.

"I believe it is crucial to let Marion know publicly that there are many Aboriginal people, not just in the Northern Territory, but around Australia, who will be applauding her decision and supporting her stance on the homelands policy."

"It is my earnest hope that their public support will assist her stay strong in the fight for her people.

"Aboriginal rights are under attack across the country.

"I'm sure Marion's decision today will send a clear message to all Aboriginal politicians and their constituents that we are not powerless in fighting for the pursuit of evidence-based policies to be implemented in genuine partnership with our people to tackle the many problems we face."

Ms Manton added that given this development she also called on the Federal Minister for Families Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to support calls for an independent mediator to be appointed to seek to break the impasse between the Federal Government and the Tangentyere Council over housing leases for Alice Springs town camps.

This plea was made recently by the Australian Greens Senator, Senator Rachel Siewert.

"This issue is also causing deep distress and anxiety for Aboriginal people not just in Alice Springs but throughout Australia," Ms Manton said.

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Further information: Peter Windsor: 0400 554 603