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Leave to Move Motion Forthwith

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 30 March 2023

Tags: No Confidence Motion, Tasmanian Aboriginals

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I move -

That so much of standing orders be suspended to debate a motion that the House, out of deep abiding respect for Tasmanian Aboriginal people, has no confidence in the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Roger Jaensch, because he has failed in his sworn duty to recognise and represent the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

This minister has lost the confidence and the faith, not only of the Greens, most critically he has lost the confidence and the faith of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. We gave him an opportunity this morning to recognise and respect Tasmanian Aboriginal people. We gave him an opportunity to condemn the words of the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation that there is no such thing as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person. In his answer he repeatedly and deliberately said 'Aboriginal people in Tasmania', because he does not want to offend his constituents. The only Aboriginal corporation or organisation that stands with him is the fake Aboriginal group, the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation, which self-confessed is not a Tasmanian Aboriginal group.

I read into Hansard now, the responses from Sarah Wilcox and Tina Burgess who are here in the Chamber with us today, to what they heard from a minister who was supposed to represent their community. They say:

Is it any wonder we have such distrust in government? We sit here with our ancestors in our hearts feeling shame and despair. The Premier spoke about health and wellbeing. Where's ours? We are one community. Our people are the most documented people in the world. We need truth in truth-telling. We feel utterly disrespected. Where is our representation?

We offered the Premier an opportunity to apologise to Sarah and Tina and to Tasmanian Aboriginal people and he did not, he would not. On behalf of the Greens, I say to Sarah and Tina, I am so deeply sorry you had to hear that today.

Mr Jaensch then stood up and cynically had cobbled together a Dorothy Dix question. We saw him frantically texting after his disastrous and disrespectful answer to our question, to try to get a DD up, where he did say the words 'Tasmanian Aboriginal people'. Too little, too late. What he should have done and what he needed to do was apologise for grievously insulting the people he has a sworn duty to represent, the people whose story and culture reaches deep into this island, going back 50 000-60 000 years, since time began.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal community has had to fight so hard to have identity and culture recognised and today are a proud palawa people. They have this insult from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. It is no wonder community members regard him as malevolent and deceitful. We are prepared to put that in writing. This is the minister for CHAC and CHAC alone. CHAC itself has said it is not a Tasmanian Aboriginal organisation. I read into Hansard in case anyone is confused, what CHAC has said. This is in their submission to the allegedly improved model for returning land to Aboriginal people in Tasmania, which we are absolutely certain will not be an improved model because it seeks to take away community land returns and hand it back to non-Tasmanian Aboriginal organisations like CHAC just because they happen to live nearby. CHAC has said:

We must stress that our good faith in this process has been challenged as we unpack the detail of this paper and our primary concern with the entire paper is the false premise of such a thing as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person. The laws of Australia are very clear. There is only one kind of Aboriginal person and that is an Australian Aboriginal person. Our research team have provided us with evidence that the construct of Tasmanian Aboriginal persons is a fallacy.

That is racist and disrespectful and flat-out - obviously - wrong.

Mr Speaker, we understand the Government does not let no-confidence motions move past the seeking of leave, but this is so important. We have to test confidence in this minister and we need to move on to the suspension of standing orders and have this debate out of respect for a people whose flag we have in here and who are utterly disrespected by this minister. In his answer today, their existence was denied.

We implore the Government to move past the seeking of leave. Out of respect for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community we need to have this debate on want of confidence in the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who has divided the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. In his answer to our first question this morning he could not bring himself to say the words 'Tasmanian Aboriginal people'. Repeatedly and deliberately he said - and it was noted by Sarah and Tina - 'Aboriginal people in Tasmania'. So cynical, so disrespectful. We must have this debate.