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Keys to effective indigenous policy are prioritisation, representation and resourcing - not rhetoric.

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SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT Queensland Democrats Senator


Media Statement Friday 23 March 2007 rd

The Democrats' Deputy Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, says reports of a major shift in Labor's Indigenous policy will be meaningless unless it is backed up by a clear commitment to give Indigenous issues far greater priority.

"Indigenous issues have never been a consistent priority for either major party, and until it becomes top priority, with boosts in resources and representation to match it, then we will continue to see the same dismal failure," Senator Bartlett said.

"The major problem in the Indigenous policies of both Labor and Liberal over many years hasn't been the rhetoric, it's been the implementation."

"It is hard to know how much of this change is just a shift in rhetoric designed to reduce the perceived gap between Labor the Liberals, and how much of it signals a genuine change in policy,"

"However, the Democrats welcome Labor's commitment to establish a representative body for Indigenous Australians."

"There is nothing 'backward looking' in ensuring there is an effective representative body for Indigenous Australians. The Howard government's own hand-picked National Indigenous Council has recently called for the establishment of regional structures so Indigenous people have a voice."

"There is no single 'one size fits all' solution to the disadvantages faced by Indigenous Australians. Until we provide more ways of hearing directly from the many different Indigenous groups and people about how best to assist them in implementing improvements and building up their own communities, we will just be continuing down the firmly entrenched path of paternalism.

Media contact - Tracee McPate - 0417 607 655

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