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Liberals' Aboriginal Incarceration Shame

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Tags: Corrections, Justice, Tasmanian Aboriginals

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Liberal Government has made much of its commitment to First Nations justice, but new data released by the Productivity Commission shows once more just how hollow the words of successive Premiers and Ministers have been for Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Year after year for the past decade the data confirms the growing number of Aboriginal people incarcerated in Tasmania. And year after year we’ve seen the Tasmanian Government stubbornly refuse to engage in real, evidence-based reform, or listen to Aboriginal voices.

A stark decline in justice outcomes for Aboriginal people has been underway ever since the Liberals came to government in 2014.

Given their apparent refusal to take this issue seriously, it’s not really surprising to see the Liberals have now recorded a disturbing new milestone, with the number of Aboriginal people in Tasmania’s prison system more than doubling in a decade.

This deeply unjust situation is the inevitable result of a years-long trend under this government.

The history of Aboriginal people suffering deep injustice at the hands of governments of every type is well-documented, but far from just being a feature of history, this injustice is shamefully still a grim reality, as seen in the prison system today.

In the face of their obvious failures in justice and corrections, the Liberals have remained doggedly committed to their ‘tough on crime’ agenda, despite overwhelming evidence this approach only leads to harm, injustice and cycles of disadvantage.

The ultra-conservatives in the Liberal Cabinet want to keep Tasmania living in the past. In the justice system that means punishment as policy - no matter the cost. Tasmanians – especially Aboriginal people – deserve so much better.

It’s well past time for the Liberal Government to start genuinely listening to Aboriginal voices, and to commit to evidence-backed solutions for what can only be described as a crisis in the Corrections system.