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Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Page: 885

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (13:57): I know that I and, I think, most Australians support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012. Without this bill, I think most Australians including myself recognise that the continent known as Australia was first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I think we all accept the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the traditional land and waters, and I am sure that, as well, we all respect the continuing cultures. I want to return to that later in my speech.

But, just at the moment, I want to say that, for all the words I have heard here today, there are Indigenous people dying in Townsville because the federal government will not fund transport to get Indigenous people from their place of residence to dialysis treatment in Townsville Hospital. You can speak all you like about this bill, but I want to see the federal government and the Greens actually do something tangible to assist Indigenous people. I have written to Ms Macklin, Ms Plibersek and Mr Snowdon asking for transport for these Indigenous people to get to dialysis. Have I had any response? None at all. This is an urgent situation, and in Townsville I am aware of one person having died because they could not get transport from their place of residence to a hospital. That is where you should start your care and concern for Indigenous people. In these few seconds I have before the break, I want to emphasise that. If there are ministers here from the government, would you please get on to Ms Macklin, Ms Plibersek or Mr Snowdon and ask them to have a look at my letter to them of 20 February, just a few days ago, and please do something for these Indigenous people who desperately need help.

Debate interrupted.