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Aboriginal Place Names Usage

11 September 2019

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Premier, on 26 January 2015 as the newly minted premier, or relatively so, you promised to reset the relationship with Aboriginal Tasmanians. Since then your Government has returned no lands, is pushing to reopen tracks through ancient heritage in takayna, is actively dividing Aboriginal communities, and you have walked away from the portfolio leaving failure in your wake.

Now your Government is moving to fine Aboriginal people up to $8400 for using place names that have been in place for thousands of years but have now yet been formally recognised in a move linguist and Aboriginal community leader, Theresa Sainty, has defiantly called 'absolute arrogance'.

As Premier, what is your response to Ms Sainty and the community she represents. How did you let this happen?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the true leader of the opposition for the statement. It was not really a question but I am happy to speak more about what we are doing to support reconciliation to advance initiatives and programs that support Aboriginal Tasmanians, to close the gap, and to ensure that we are able to work constructively on areas where there are opportunities.

Joint land management arrangements, land return, is an important mechanism for reconciliation, as we have always acknowledged. We have a strong desire to progress those things as per the statements we have made to this place. Progress is being made.

I make reference to the dishonest claims in relation to the place names bill. As often is the case, contrary to accusations made by the Greens, the penalty provisions in no way impede freedom of speech. There are examples in the media that are wrong. There will be no sanction for the use of colloquial names or Aboriginal names, whether dual or otherwise. The penalty provision will only be used as a last resort if a person misuses a place name with the deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive; listing a property for sale as being in one suburb when it is within the boundaries of another.

Ms O'Connor - That is not clear in the bill.

Mr HODGMAN - Claims that the minister is somehow taking control of the naming process are false.

Ms O'Connor - Well, he is.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor, warning number one.

Mr HODGMAN - In the old act, the minister had the power to overrule the board following an objection. In the new act, the minister may only approve a recommendation put forward by the panel or deny the recommendation and send it back to the panel for review. He or she can no longer make a unilateral decision. This new system provides greater community representation and better protects the public.

We will continue to progress another important number of initiatives. Our commitments are to not only reset the relationship but build upon it. More than ever before, all Tasmanian Aboriginals are now recognised by government policy. That was a strong decision we took to do so. More Aboriginal Tasmanians have not only been recognised in their home state but are also able access services and support. We were able to ensure that Tasmanians were recognised in our state's constitution. It was long overdue; we were the last state to do so.

I point to the incoming member for Clark, Madeleine Ogilvie, who was instrumental in advocating for Tasmanian Aboriginals to be included in the constitution. That was a great example of the positive contribution that Ms Ogilvie made in the parliament during her last term, which is why we said we would welcome her back to it again. She has been able to positively and constructively bring forward things to support Tasmanians.

I ask the question again: does the Leader of the Opposition have a position on this yet? Is Madeleine Ogilvie going be to welcomed back, or not? It is starting to look a little like a reality television show.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance. I am not interested in this politicking and nor is Theresa Sainty. Perhaps you could answer the question rather than indulging in cheap politics.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order.

Mr HODGMAN - I have done so. It is like a reality television show. Will they welcome Maddie back? Will the tribe have her back, or are they going to send her to 'Exile Island'? Let us wait and see.