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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9187

Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (20:15): I rise to speak on the motion moved by the honourable member for Fremantle. This motion acknowledges the inaugural international conference entitled 'Parliaments, minorities and indigenous peoples: effective participation in politics', held in Chiapas, Mexico in October 2010.

It also adopted the Chiapas Declaration, which urges every parliament, within the next two years, to, inter alia, hold a special debate on the situation of minorities and indigenous peoples in their country, recognise the diversity in society, and adopt a plan of action to make the right to equal participation and nondiscrimination a reality. The motion also calls upon the government to facilitate a roundtable discussion with representatives of Australian Indigenous communities on issues arising from the Chiapas Declaration.

I respectfully acknowledge the intent of the motion and the motivation behind it by the member for Fremantle; however, when it comes to dealing with Indigenous issues and participation in this country the time for talk is surely over. I think every single member of this parliament condemns discrimination, particularly Indigenous discrimination. And whilst small elements of discrimination may still remain acceptable to some people in our community, the way to eradicate it is to send strong messages from community leaders and politicians that it is not acceptable. How we achieve Indigenous reconciliation and increased Indigenous participation is through increased action on the ground and actual results, not through talks and roundtables.

Increasingly, we are seeing more Indigenous members of parliament in many of the state parliaments of Australia and in the federal parliament. The honourable member for Hasluck became the first ever Indigenous member of the House of Representatives in 2010. When you have incredible role models such as the member for Hasluck, thousands of young Indigenous Australians become inspired to take leadership roles in our communities just as they are inspired by many of the members here from different ethnic backgrounds. We are the leaders of our community and we do inspire many from non-English-speaking backgrounds as well. One day, we will hopefully see equal participation in this nation. We recently had the National Indigenous Youth Parliament, which, from all reports, was a huge success.

We have seen some fantastic work being done by the private sector in Indigenous employment. We all know the high rate of Indigenous unemployment and the lack of employment opportunity amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The way to truly empower Indigenous people is for them to have employment with regular income. It is interesting to note that this government and Treasurer come out and bag people like Twiggy Forrest on an almost daily basis, yet the work he really does with the Australian Employment Covenant, finding 10,000 jobs for Aboriginal people, is absolutely inspiring, and he never falters from his goal. In my home state of Queensland there is a bill before the parliament to repeal the Wild Rivers laws that were introduced by the Bligh government. These laws make land within one kilometre of a prescribed watercourse pristine and unable to be used or developed. This has had a massive impact on the ability of Indigenous Australians in Cape York to create their own opportunities.

There are many examples of practical things that can be achieved to inspire and empower Indigenous participation and achieve the goals set by the Chiapas Declaration. As a former employer, I have had many opportunities to work with Indigenous people and have tried to mentor and support them in the workplace. But I believe more needs to be done. More employers need to work in this space and work on initiatives to ensure that Indigenous people have every opportunity for success in the workplace.

In conclusion, I support the sentiment behind the motion. I commend the member for Fremantle, as she often brings very meaningful motions to this parliament and they are well thought out. She brings her many years of past experience in the United Nations to this parliament. We should be working for real results, we should be working on the ground with real employers and we should be providing much more action to help Indigenous participation in this nation through real and practical role models and through working with the business sector.