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Aboriginal Affairs – Tasmanian Aboriginal People

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tags: Tasmanian Aboriginals, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, do you regret the deep harm and offence you caused, through your words in parliament on 30 March, failing to recognise the existence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people?

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you for your question, Dr Woodruff. I don't believe that I failed to recognise the existence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The response I gave in the parliament and the subsequent contribution I made on a later item of business on the same day laid out my deep respect and admiration for the descendants of first Tasmanians, people whose ancestry extends on this island in this state to times before colonisation and the trauma and the atrocities that their people, their ancestors, have endured and their survival as proud aboriginal people here today. I can be absolutely unequivocal about that.

Dr WOODRUFF - It seems to many Tasmanian Aboriginal people that you are deliberately failing to uphold the Tasmanian Constitution which specifically recognises Tasmanian Aboriginal people as being the soul and enduring custodians of the rich culture and heritage of this beautiful island, by buying into the fallacious and defensive arguments presented by the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC) that it is a false premise, that there is any such thing as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person. They may have their views; but for you as the minister responsible can you understand that you did not make a strong statement; you did not recognise Tasmanian Aboriginal people. You fell into the deliberate language that is being used by CHAC with purpose. Can you recognise that you need to uphold the Constitution as the minister responsible for this portfolio?

Your failure was raised as a matter of deep hurt, by the way, at the reconciliation breakfast just last week.

Mr JAENSCH - I reject the premise that, somehow, I have embraced or upheld anything in submissions made a year ago in a public comment process by individual organisations. We have received around 150 submissions in relation to the Aboriginal Lands Act and other recent processes. There is an extraordinarily diverse range of views, opinions and assertions made in those, some of which are in conflict with each other. I have never taken responsibility for, or sought to uphold, or denigrate, or provide commentary on the content of any submissions made through a public process like that. That is not my job.

My job is to provide a process by which people are able to contribute their views and be heard. When you brought that forward in parliament recently, and then somehow attributed the content of a submission to me from a third party a year ago, I thought that was very unfair and unfortunate.

I know that through that characterisation people have drawn conclusions about what I think or stand for, and I am happy to engage with anybody and answer their questions on my views; but I cannot be held responsible for the views of others or what you interpret them to be and particularly if you do so or continue to do so for political purposes.

Dr WOODRUFF - Who are the traditional and original owners of Tasmanian land and waters, minister?

Mr JAENSCH - The Tasmanian Aboriginal people.