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Slow Progress on Resetting Relationship with Aboriginal Tasmanians

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tags: Tasmanian Aboriginals, State Budget, Land Returns, First Home Buyers

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson

The Premier's no doubt sincere commitment to 'reset the relationship' with Aboriginal Tasmanians by 30 June this year - according to the Liberals' March 2015 update - is off to an uninspiring and noncommittal start.

In Estimates today, the Premier refused to commit to the return of lands in this term of government and refused to reverse the Liberals' ill-thought policy to open up tracks in the culturally priceless Tarkine region.

The Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs knows that the return of culturally significant lands is at the heart of meaningful reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Tasmanians, yet the best he could say today was that he 'hoped' lands would be returned in this term of government.

That is a woefully non-committal response on an issue of such importance to Aboriginal Tasmanians.

The Premier also knows that irresponsible off-road vehicle users continue to cause irreparable damage to globally significant and culturally priceless Aboriginal sites along the Arthur Pieman coast, and yet he confirmed today the Liberals are committed to reopening tracks which were closed in 2012 to protect places and features of deep cultural significance to Aboriginal Tasmanians.

Mr Hodgman also confirmed the Treasurer's statement in the other Estimates Committee that the exemption on Stamp Duty for Aboriginal first home buyers won't be restored after being scrapped in last year's Budget.

Resetting the relationship with a dispossessed people who have experienced terrible injustice over the past 212 years will take more than well-intended words. It will require meaningful action including the return of lands, the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage, and progress towards a Treaty with our first people.