Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
NT remote communities want action -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TONY EASTLEY: In the Northern Territory, Indigenous people in the bush have found their electoral voice and have been exercising their power at the ballot box.

Indigenous voters in remote parts may decide who wins the marginal Labor-held seat of Lingiari in this federal poll.

Today the Electoral Commission will begin mobile polling in the vast bush electorate which covers almost all the Northern Territory.

Sara Everingham reports.

(Sound of Aboriginal people playing traditional instruments)

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land are proud of their ancient culture, and of their recent work developing economic opportunities on their land.

Djawa Yunupingu is the deputy chairman of the Gumatj Association, which has set up several small-scale businesses using funds from a mining agreement as capital.

DJAWA YUNUPINGU: It is the highest priority that we want to get. We want to do development on our own land.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Djawa's brother Galarrwuy Yunupingu has told both major parties land rights will be an empty achievement unless Indigenous people control economic development on their land.

Djawa Yunupingu says the Gumatj clan wants to determine its own future.

DJAWA YUNUPINGU: We want to dig up our own land in mining. We want to mine things ourselves. We want to build housing on our own land, enough to get contractors coming out and doing it for us. We want to be independent.

SARA EVERINGHAM: At the recent Garma cultural festival in north-east Arnhem Land, both Labor's Jenny Macklin and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott promised more engagement with Indigenous people to help them develop their own solutions.

Mr Abbott has said if he becomes Prime Minister, he'll spend his first week in the job with Aboriginal leaders in this region.

Djawa Yunupingu welcomes the commitments, but wants to make sure they're not just words.

DJAWA YUNUPINGU: It's good of him coming up and talk, right, that is what we want to hear. But it's action we want to see from these people, from the politicians.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In other parts of the Northern Territory, Indigenous people also want to be heard.

Lisa Mumbin is a community leader in the town of Katherine about 300 kilometres south of Darwin.

LISA MUMBIN: There's other places I believe voices need to be heard.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Katherine is a service centre for many remote Indigenous communities and Lisa Mumbin says it's struggling to cope.

LISA MUMBIN: We've got issues like housing. We've got issues still on education. Alcohol is very, very high within Katherine.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Indigenous voters in remote communities in the territory may decide who wins the marginal Labor seat of Lingiari in the Northern Territory.

Lisa Mumbin says no political party can take Indigenous votes in the seat of Lingiari for granted.

LISA MUMBIN: People now are standing and saying it's my decision, my choice, who I want to vote for. And they want to make their vote count.

TONY EASTLEY: Lisa Mumbin from Katherine ending Sara Everingham's report.