You are here

Tasmanian Aboriginal People - Submission by CHAC

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 30 March 2023

Tags: Tasmanian Aboriginals


The Tasmanian Constitution recognises Tasmania's Aboriginal people as the traditional and original owners of Tasmanian lands and waters. It recognises the enduring spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance of traditional lands and waters to Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and recognises the unique and lasting contributions that Tasmanian Aboriginal people have made, and continue to make, to Tasmania.

In their disgraceful submission to your process for changing the model for returning land to Aboriginal Tasmanians, the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC) and Brumby Hill Aboriginal Corporation say it is a false premise that there is such a thing as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person, and that the notion is a fallacy with no basis in law. They have admitted they are not Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and made this argument as a basis for having land returned to them just because they live near takayna.

As minister, what is your view? Do you agree with the Constitution or CHAC? Will you stand by Tasmanian Aboriginal people and condemn CHAC and the Brumby Hill Corporation for their racist denial of Tasmanian Aboriginal people's very existence?

Ms Archer - There you go at the end, to load it with racism.

Ms O'CONNOR - Have you read the submission, Attorney-General?

Ms Archer - No.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, well bite your tongue.

Ms Archer - Be careful with your language, is what I am saying.

Ms O'CONNOR - We are very careful.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.



Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for her question. We have used a range of different processes when we have been seeking advice and input from Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people on the development of new Aboriginal heritage protection legislation in Tasmania; on the review of the model for returning land to Aboriginal people; through the processes for determining a process for Truth Telling and Treaty in Tasmania; and on various other matters. We have sought the views of all Aboriginal people -

Ms O'Connor - Why can you not say 'Tasmanian Aboriginal people'?

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order.

Ms O'Connor - It is telling -

Mr SPEAKER - Order. What part of not interrupting the minister do you not understand?

Mr JAENSCH - and we will listen to, and we will have a place at the table, for all Aboriginal people to participate in these processes.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45 - relevance. Perhaps the minister could answer the question. He has not once acknowledged Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and we ask him to.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you know that to go into an argument is not part of the appropriate processes of a point of order. The minister was answering the question.

Mr JAENSCH - Mr Speaker, we all come into this parliament from our different parties and our different electorates and communities, with our different backgrounds and life experience. The people of Tasmania do not expect us to come in here and immediately agree on everything. They expect this is a place where a range of views will be canvassed, and there will be a process for making decisions that take Tasmania forward. We should not expect Aboriginal people to all agree on everything, or to agree with each other; or to even recognise each other as being -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. This really is a very important question to Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, just because I pulled you into line you do not then get to say it is on a point of order and stand up and start an argument. You will listen to the minister completing his answer in silence or you can listen to it from outside.

Mr JAENSCH - As I said, Mr Speaker, we will ensure that we provide as much opportunity as possible for all Aboriginal people in Tasmania to have their say. Whether people participate in those processes or not is up to them -

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. We have asked the minister to condemn the racist denial of Tasmanian Aboriginal people by CHAC and Brumby Hill.

Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order. Just because I have indicated to the Leader of the Greens what she should not be doing, it does not give the member for Franklin the opportunity to then stand on a point of order and argue.

We will, as a House, listen in silence to the answer the minister is giving until the completion of the answer.

Ms O'BYRNE - Mr Speaker, on your ruling, the standing order that is quoted on relevance has a first point, which is that the member shall not debate the matter to which the same refers. If the minister is not prepared to answer the question directly he should resume his seat.

Mr SPEAKER - It has been less than a minute that the minister has been answering the question. I have to allow appropriate time for the minister to answer the question without interruptions. I will give the minister that opportunity.

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you, Mr Speaker. Our Government will work with all parties, all Aboriginal people, who will work with us. We will seek to provide processes that are clear and transparent that give everybody a say to improve the lives of Aboriginal people through good policy and legislation.

I do not support or condone aggression between groups of people, slanderous or hurtful words that are said, either though submissions, through formal processes, or in letters to the editor in the newspapers or interviews on radio or television. That is not within my control. We can try to provide fair and open processes where everyone can be heard and everyone's views can be considered, so that we can be confident as legislators, when we put forward policy and new legislation, that it has been informed by the views of Aboriginal people in Tasmania and everyone who has sought to participate in those processes.

I urge everyone who -

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Speaker, point of order, standing order 45, relevance. We have listened in silence. The minister has not addressed the question if he will deny the racist denial of CHAC of Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order. I will ask the minister to address the relevance issue. That is all I can do. I cannot put words in the minister's mouth or indicate to him how he should be answering the question. Minister, if you could please complete your answer.

Mr JAENSCH - I have no control over what any group of people puts in their submissions to an open process. There are many hurtful things said across the groupings of Aboriginal people in Tasmania and it is a difficult part of the portfolio that we manage. I believe it is one that Ms White and Ms O'Connor also know about and respect and have had to navigate from time to time. I understand that in the past they have also given undertakings to broader groupings of regional Aboriginal organisations as well that they will recognise and work with them equally. I would be quite surprised if they were, through these comments, seeking to step back from that.

We will continue to provide opportunities for all Aboriginal people in Tasmania to contribute to the processes of forming legislation that affects them to the development of a process for truth telling and treaty in Tasmania. We will listen respectfully to all views. We ask them to be respectful of each other in the process as well.

I will not be providing a commentary on the submissions that individual groups have made but we will be considering all submissions in our processes.