Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens' Leader and Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson
Amendments to the Aboriginal Relics Act are an improvement on the current, racist legislation, but the bill tabled in Parliament today is both a lost opportunity and a clear sign that the Liberals wear two faces on Aboriginal heritage issues.
The Bill tries to dress up the most racist law on Tasmania’s statutes instead of engaging in meaningful conversation with Tasmania’s First People about robust, empowering Aboriginal heritage protection.
It also goes nowhere near addressing the Liberals’ taxpayer funded push to reopen tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, a place acknowledged as one of the richest Aboriginal heritage sites on the planet.
The takayna/Tarkine is a place of deep spiritual value to Tasmanian Aborigines, a landscape with tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal history embedded. Its middens and hut depressions are being directly threatened by the Liberals’ divisive move to allow off-road vehicles into places of such cultural value, tracks that were closed by the former Minister for Parks, Brian Wightman.
The Liberals claim to be 'resetting the relationship' with Tasmania's First People, but it's not going well. Premier Hodgman is standing against Aboriginal Tasmanians and alongside off-road vehicle users, while refusing to condemn his backbenchers in their divisive statements about Aboriginal groups.
In the Liberals' 'Deliverables 2017 ' propaganda, they've even gone so far as listing amendments to Aboriginal heritage laws under the heading of "supporting Tasmanians in need". This is a patronising, tasteless and disrespectful way of referring to Tasmania's proud First People.
The Hodgman Liberal Government has a very long way to go to end entrenched discrimination against Aboriginal Tasmanians, let alone 'resetting the relationship'.