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Aboriginal Flag - Permanent Presence above Parliament House

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Tags: takayna / Tarkine, Aboriginal Tasmanians, Parliament

Aboriginal Flag Permanent Presence above Parliament House, Cassy O'Connor MP, 11 November 2020



It is NAIDOC Week and I am sure you will agree progress on justice for lutruwita/Tasmania's First People has been slow over the past 213 years. Aboriginal heritage protection is still often treated as an afterthought or, at worst, ignored in place like the Tarkine. Aboriginal Tasmanians are incarcerated at a massively disproportionate rate. Aboriginal children are being let down by our child safety system. Land returns have stalled. We do not have a treaty or dedicated seats for the palawa pakana people in Tasmania's parliament.

There have been some small, encouraging signs of change in the wider community. Recently the Clarence and Northern Midlands councils agreed to permanently fly the Aboriginal flag outside their chambers. As you know, NAIDOC Week is the only time of year the Aboriginal flag flies above Tasmania's Parliament House. In our private members' time today the Greens will move for change.

Every member of this place knows there is so much more to do to achieve justice for Tasmania's First People. Flying the flag here will not solve these critical issues but it would be an important step for recognition and respect. Will you and your Government today support our motion to permanently fly the Aboriginal flag over Parliament House?

Madam SPEAKER - If the Premier is happy to give an opinion from the Government that is fine, but it is actually a decision of the House.

Ms O'Connor - That is right.



Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens, Ms O'Connor, for that question. Before I start, I thought Tim McCormack's Welcome to Country was outstanding this morning. The function this morning that a number of us were at was an outstanding function and I thank the organisers, broadly speaking, the churches of Tasmania. I do not mind saying that that was the first breakfast of that type I have attended. I must admit that my take away reflection was that I should have attended many more. I thought it was very positive.

Ms O'Connor - Are you filled with peace?

Mr GUTWEIN - You will find out in a couple of minutes, won't you?

Madam Speaker, noting the early advice on this matter from the Clerk and yourself, I say very clearly that I absolutely support the Aboriginal flag being flown above this place right through the course of the year and this Government would support that occurring. That it is a small but important step.

In the period since I have become Premier I have engaged with the Aboriginal community and have had many discussions with both Michael Mansell and Rodney Dillon to talk about the challenges we face. One of the things that I am certainly determined to do, having grown up through the 1980s in Launceston -

Ms O'Byrne - What a time to be alive, Peter.

Mr GUTWEIN - It was a great time to be alive, Michelle, as you would well know.

One of the things I am determined to do as we work our way through this is that for the Aboriginal kid who used to live in Rocherlea when I was growing up, when I was 16, and has not had the best of lives since then, I want to make certain that the 16-year-old kid who is now growing up in Rocherlea or wherever it might be in this state has a much better life moving forward. This side of the House is going to work very hard to reset this relationship to ensure that we can turn the dial and improve better outcomes for that community as we work our way forward. I know that the minister is well engaged on those matters.

I am very pleased to receive that question from you today. From my point of view it is a small step but it would be an important step and subject to the House agreeing this afternoon, and I am presuming we would need the agreement of the upper House as well, that the Aboriginal flag could fly above this place every day of the year, not only NAIDOC Week.

Members - Hear, hear.