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Minister for Aboriginal Affairs - Actions

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 30 March 2023

Tags: Tasmanian Aboriginals


Before I ask this question, Premier, I want to let you know that we have two members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community in the Chamber today, Sarah Wilcox and Tina Burgess, palawa people who your minister has grievously insulted in his previous answer.

Premier, on 22 March you received correspondence from Rodney Gibbins, highly respected Tasmanian Aboriginal leader and Chair of tuylupa tunapri, the group of community representatives elected by hundreds of community members. After dealing with your Minister for Aboriginal Affairs - who, today, could not acknowledge the existence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people who handpicked an Advisory Group on Treaty that has people who are not Aboriginal Tasmanians - Mr Gibbins has described minister Jaensch as malevolent and deceitful.

Other than the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation, which has confirmed it is not a Tasmanian Aboriginal group, your Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has clearly lost the confidence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and this risks derailing the path to truth-telling and treaty.

Premier, will you sack him because he will not stand by and has lost the confidence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people; take back the Aboriginal affairs portfolio; and apologise to those members of the Tasmanian palawa community who are in the Chamber today?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I acknowledge the attendees, members of the palawa people in the Chamber today. Thank you for being here.

I have full confidence in our minister. The minister is a very considered and caring individual. I have always believed that. Mr Jaensch is working very hard when it comes to listening to all Aboriginal communities across Tasmania. When it comes to us as a Government and, I believe, as a parliament, we should all be united when it comes to the pathway -

Ms O'Connor - Your minister does not even acknowledge the existence of palawa.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We are committed to progressing truth-telling and treaty in true partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Last year the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I met with Aboriginal representatives from across the state in Launceston to commence discussions on how truth-telling and treaty should proceed in Tasmania. Based on those discussions, and a subsequent nomination process, we announced the membership of an advisory group comprised of Aboriginal people who can work together with the Government to design a process for truth-telling and treaty that is led by Aboriginal people.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Advisory Group is being supported to undertake whatever work it feels is needed, including investigating work underway in other jurisdictions, undertaking research, seeking specialist advice and, most importantly, consulting with Aboriginal people across the state.

I have a great interest when it comes to the pathway to truth-telling and treaty. I take great interest in Tasmania's dark history when it comes to how appallingly our First Nations people were treated. I want to ensure that all Tasmanians are aware of those very dark times and do what we can to not only acknowledge, but ensure that together all our Aboriginal communities -

Dr Woodruff - This is about Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Acknowledge it.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - When I speak about Aboriginal communities, of course I speak of Tasmanian Aboriginal communities. We can unite, we can acknowledge the dark past, acknowledge the wrongs and ensure that we do much more across a range of social and economic indicators when it comes to supporting our First Nations and Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Support them in better educational attainment, improved health outcomes, a greater participation in our community and economically.

I have personally taken great interest in our history and our language. I have made a number of statements about our language as well. I will never forget a very powerful three to four hours I spent with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation in Launceston learning about palawa kani and its history. It is a beautiful language. That is why it is important that we bring the Tasmanian community together, listen to the voices of lived experience across the Tasmanian Aboriginal communities, unite, and acknowledge the wrongs of the past so we can move forward together.