Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson
After years of inaction under the previous Premier, it’s encouraging to hear Premier Gutwein sound genuine about reconciliation and land returns for this island’s First People.
We hope, for all Aboriginal Tasmanians, real progress is made. The last Tasmanian Premier to deliver any genuine reparation for the palawa/pakana people was Paul Lennon in 2006, when he directed compensation be given to the stolen generation.
We also hope Mr Gutwein is serious about progressing land returns. While the return of small parcels of land at Larapuna and Rebecca Creek was initiated under a Green Minister in the Giddings Government, it was, shamefully, blocked by the Legislative Council.
Mr Gutwein can make a real difference on the long, hard journey to justice for this island’s first people.
A first order of business must be to abandon the disrespectful and destructive push to open up tracks through priceless Aboriginal heritage in the takayna/Tarkine, which has been stalled in the courts at huge public expense.
The Premier also needs to listen to Aboriginal people’s desire for political representation.
The recent report on restoring the numbers in the House of Assembly made a unanimously accepted recommendation that a model needs to be developed to provide for dedicated seats for Aboriginal people in the Tasmanian Parliament. This move has Liberal and Labor support and should be progressed.
Tasmanian Aboriginal people have a history on this island dating back more than 50 000 years. Their country was stolen from them at the point of a gun, their people dispossessed and banished to Wybalena, their ongoing survival was denied, their people marginalised. Reconciliation and justice are still a long way off.
Enough lip service from successive Premiers. Time for meaningful, respectful action.