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Aboriginal Affairs - Truth telling

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Tags: Tasmanian Aboriginals, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - I listened to your answers just then with great heart and I acknowledge your sincerity in this portfolio. Without going into any sort of detail of the unknowns of what professors Warner and McCormack might bring back, how do you envisage truth listening to work from the point of view of non-Aboriginal Tasmanians? That has to be part of the process, doesn't it? There is a truth telling and then non Aboriginal Tasmanians need to be prepared to listen. Have you had any discussions with the professors who are undertaking the work about what that might look like and do you agree it is critical that we have as much truth listening happening across the island as is humanly possible?

Mr JAENSCH - I haven't had that discussion with them. We don't have weekly meetings. Professor Warner and Professor McCormack are doing this their way and following their inquiries wherever they lead around the state and through the issues. We are not asking them to check in and we are not downloading their learning yet.

What I am checking in on them is, do you have what you need? How are you are going, because this job can be a tough one. It can be a very emotionally invested process. We have the right people for that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, you do.

Mr JAENSCH - We need to look after them as well. What I have been doing in my other portfolios - by way of going to where you were looking - if we're listening and if we have Aboriginal people expressing through this process, there needs to be an audience and an address for it to land and do something.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes.

Mr JAENSCH - I would think there are issues in, say, my Heritage portfolio, about how we protect, present and interpret the last 200 years of the British period of Tasmania's history. What might be coming out of a conversation with Aboriginal people about their experience of that period, through their eyes and their lens, that we need to invest in our telling of Tasmania's -

Ms O'CONNOR - True history.

Mr JAENSCH - Full history, exactly. That's the sort of thing I have thrown as a challenge to my department, and to organisations like the PAHSMA and the National Trust, and asked them to give consideration to. The cool thing is that they're already going there. They're thinking through these things, and most of those organisations and people have been able to reflect to me some of the discussions they're already having, or seeking on those matters.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister. So, on the issue of the truth-telling treaty, and justice or voice, the parliamentary committee that was looking into the House of Assembly restoration bill tabled its report in 2019. The three parties that were represented on that committee unanimously agreed there needs to be Aboriginal representation in the Tasmanian parliament, which you'd be aware is something Aboriginal people have been calling for some long time. What's your view on dedicated Aboriginal seats in the parliament? Are you aware if that is part of the conversations that Professors McCormack and Warner are undertaking?

Mr JAENSCH - Some of the people who are giving their views to the professors are on the public record with their hopes for Aboriginal representation in our parliament. We know that is a topic they'll be hearing about and giving consideration to. We're waiting to hear what that process brings us.

Ms O'CONNOR - You're open to it, aren't you?

Mr JAENSCH - The Premier has been on the record as finding it difficult to see how that would work. The process we have, though, we have to let run, and let it hear what people have to say and let it bring ideas forward. We're not ruling things out to box that discussion in, but we’re not pre empting anything either and making any commitments.

Ms O'CONNOR - Or ruling anything out?

Mr JAENSCH - We need to give that process the chance to run, and find what it can find. Let it be led by those conversations, and we'll hear what it has to say.