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Tuesday, 27 September 2022
Page: 100


Senator McCARTHY (Northern TerritoryAssistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health) (21:34): This began quite a number of years ago, prior to the 2019 election, where First Nations organisations across the Northern Territory either met with me personally or travelled here to Canberra. You have groups like APO NT—Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory—the Central Land Council, the Northern Land Council and AMSANT—the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT. They came here to the parliament on numerous occasions. We even had, from Central Australia, I think it was, the Tangentyere women's group come down, in 2018.

I was able to take a couple of senators up north. I thank Senator Lambie, who was one of those, and former South Australian senator Rex Patrick; they both came up. From the House—I'm trying to think who it was—one of the staffers from Rebekha Sharkie's team travelled up as well. In Central Australia we went out to Papunya. We also visited communities around Alice Springs and then went up to Darwin and out to North-East Arnhem Land, to Yolngu country, and spoke with people from Milingimbi. There was also an opportunity—I think it was only with former senator Rex Patrick—to go to Nhulunbuy; we were able to go that far as well. On all those occasions, First Nations people raised their concerns. They obviously wanted to talk about the BasicsCard. They were trying to understand what this new cashless card was and what it would mean.

That was important in the lead-up to a debate we had here in the Senate in late 2018 or early 2019 that went to all hours of the morning. That debate was about trying to make some changes to the cashless debit card further going across the country. That's why First Nations and Northern Territory advocates came down—to make sure that then shadow minister Linda Burney was consulted. The opposition to the cashless debit card coming to the Northern Territory was made clear.