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Government fails indigenous people again.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs

Dated: 12 October 2006 Press Release Number: hzdavony Portfolio: Indigenous Affairs

Government Fails Indigenous People Again

Democrats' spokesperson on Indigenous affairs, Senator Bartlett today slammed the Government's refusal to support his motion calling on Australia to support the adoption of the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

"If our country is to be serious about tackling Indigenous inequality it is vital that much greater priority is given to Indigenous issues by all political parties," said Senator Bartlett.

"The Democrats believe the principle of self-determination for Indigenous people is an important and essential one which has still yet to be properly pursued in Australia."

"It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have greater control over their own futures as they seek to keep their identities, cultures and traditions alive while having access to the same opportunities and services as all other Australian citizens."

"It is disappointing that the Government has refused to adopt a position which recognises and supports a benchmark for minimum standards of protection for the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples."

"Focusing on basic rights is not sufficient to overcome inequality and disadvantage, but it is an essential component," concluded Senator Bartlett.

Text of the motion as follows:

(a) Notes that:

(i) Australia was occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who had settled on the continent for many thousands of years before British colonisation;

(ii) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders suffered major dispossession and dispersal upon acquisition of their traditional lands by the colonisers;

(b) Urges the Government to affirm:

(i) The importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage;

(ii) The entitlement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to self- determination subject to the Constitution and the Laws of the Commonwealth of Australia.

(c) Calls on the Australian government: (i) to support the adoption of the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

(ii) to ratify the Declaration upon its adoption as a way of ensuring that Indigenous peoples have minimum standards for the protection for their fundamental human rights.

The Democrats are proud to co-sponsor a public forum on the UN Declaration which is being held in Parliament House today in the Main Committee Room at 11:00 1:00pm.