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Recognition, rights and reform. Time to restart the real agenda Howard.

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MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Shadow Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs; the Arts and Status of Women

Federal Member for Fremantle

8 July 2002


This year’s theme for NAIDOC week is Rights, Recognition and Reform in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Mabo decision. Labor joins many Australians across the country in celebrating the remarkable and unique relationship

Indigenous Australians have with their land.

However it is fair to say that the ‘brand new day’ expected with the passing of the Native Title Act is yet to come. The Howard Government has been instrumental in the stalling of reconciliation and instead of embracing negotiations with Indigenous Australians they have created a partial substitute in the form of their ‘practical reconciliation’ agenda, on which even they consistently fail.

This anniversary provides time to take stock of progress made not only through the Native Title Act itself, but through the three tiers of the compact negotiated between Indigenous leaders and the Keating Labor Government - the Indigenous Land Fund, the Native Title Act and the Social Justice Package.

Of these three parts it is clear that the 1998 amendments by the Howard Government to the Native Title Act significantly diminished rights which were given in the original act and delayed progress in working through native title issues.

This week is also an opportunity to celebrate the Indigenous culture, which forms a vital and valuable part of our culture as a whole and to acknowledge the contribution and significant achievements Indigenous Australians continue to make to our country.

Labor recently committed to negotiating a new Social Justice Package and is committed to improving the living standards and rights of our Indigenous communities and empowering them to respond to their own particular needs.

I urge the government to address the issues affecting our Indigenous communities that are becoming a national disgrace and restart the real reconciliation agenda.

Contact: Amber-Jade Sanderson (08) 9335 8555 or 0409 132 975