Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues
The Australian Greens acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s first peoples and recognise their strong cultural and spiritual connection with the land, and their rights and obligations as owners and custodians. We are committed to seeing these rights reflected in our laws and our society. All Australians, including those living in remote communities, have an equal right to essential government services such as health, education, training, housing, community infrastructure, employment support, and policing. We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be partners in the development and implementation of policies, programs and services that affect them.
The Greens are concerned that Governments continue to overlook the important international agreements that recognise the rights of indigenous peoples and do not invest enough in efforts to bridge the gaps in many areas of our society. We are committed to seeing an end to the Northern Territory Intervention and Stronger Futures Legislation, delivering Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, compensating the Stolen Generations and improving the Native Title system.
21 May 2007
"The tenth anniversary event in Parliament House today left me sharing feelings of disappointment, frustration and sorrow -- it was not the celebration we might have wished for," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
The event, organised by the National Sorry Day Committee and hosted by Senator Siewert, to note the tenth anniversary of the release of Bringing Them Home the report on the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families this Sunday 26th May.
"Hardly anything has been done to implement the report's 54 recommendations, and we have gone backwards on nearly all of the serious problems the report identified."
10 May 2007
"After a decade presiding over what is by far the worst record on indigenous health and development in the first world, Mr Howard still chokes up on the S-word and his government is still failing to act to mitigate the far-reaching impacts of the removal of Aboriginal children from their families," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
08 May 2007
The Government has missed the mark on Aboriginal health and housing according to the Greens.
"This budget goes no where near far enough to address the 17 year life expectancy age gap between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Australians," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"Most of the new funding measures appear to be directed to regional and remote communities. The majority of Aboriginal Australians live in urban communities, but their life expectancy is just as bad as those in remote communities."
"Clearly government policies on Aboriginal issues are failing across the board not just in remote communities," said Senator Siewert.
"Aboriginal health and housing are sorely under-funded in this year's budget, a fraction of the $500 m/year needed for health or the $2.3 billion needed to catch up on housing."
"Despite recent international attention on Australia's record as last in the developed world on indigenous health and development, the Government has yet again failed to deliver on meaningful reform," she said.
"Having taken funding away from urban Aboriginal housing the Government has done nothing to ease housing affordability, leaving the majority of Aboriginal Australians worse off."
02 May 2007
The Territory Government's decision to ram through an Act of Parliament to override the NT Supreme Court findings on McArthur River is an Act of pure malice, and a sad day for landrights and judicial independence, according to Senator Rachel Siewert.
"The Martin Government must be an embarrassment and a disappointment to Kevin Rudd and Peter Garratt."
"This decision will only lead to a more protacted legal battle and leave the Territory Government looking ham-fisted and arrogant," said Senator Siewert.
"The NT Government is poised to sacrifice basic democratic principles, respect for the independence of the NT Supreme Court, the express wishes of the Traditional Owners of the area, and ecological common sense. All this for an unprofitable mine which has never paid a cent in royalties."
"If ever there was an argument for the need for more Greens in State and Territory Parliaments, this is it," said Senator Siewert.
"Our thoughts are with the Traditional Owners and defenders of their country, who now have to endure yet another round of arguments over a project that should never have seen the light of day," Senator Siewert concluded.
02 May 2007
The Northern Land Council's Supreme Court win over mining giant Xstrata is another indication that the McArthur River mine expansion should never have got the green light in the first place, according to Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
"I congratulate the Northern Land Council, acting on behalf of the Traditional Owners of the area, for their strong stand in defence of their country. The court has confirmed that this mine should never have received the support of the Territory Government," said Senator Siewert.
"The McArthur River Mine is the direct opposite of the kinds of sustainable economic development that Northern Australia is crying out for," Senator Siewert said.
"This decision gives hope to others trying to prevent inappropriate and damaging 'developments' on their traditional lands," concluded Senator Siewert.
01 May 2007
Tony Abbott's inappropriate response to the international scandal created by the WHO report into Aboriginal health has all the hallmarks of a Minister ducking for cover.
"The Health Minister's claim that "If it were easy to tackle it would have been tackled a long time ago," is no excuse for his failure to prioritise the issue of Aboriginal health and take some steps to address the issue," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"Quite simply, if the Minister thinks the issue is important, then he should have tackled it properly a long time ago," she said.
"Is he now claiming the portfolio is too hard for him to handle?"
"The truth is that there has been a decade of neglect of Aboriginal health. While other nations have made the effort and seen the results, Indigenous Australians continue to suffer poor access to primary health care and atrocious health outcomes under the Minister's watch."
"Australians do want to see practical outcomes on Indigenous health. It is a sorry day when Oxfam have to campaign on basic health care issues in what is supposedly a first world country."
"Throwing up your hands and claiming the job is too hard will achieve nothing - you need to commit to a major increase for Aboriginal health funding in this budget and every budget until the problem is solved."
"Anything less than the $500 million identified by the AMA is simply not good enough."
30 Apr 2007
"The health of Aboriginal Australians is lagging a century behind that of other Australians," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"We need to follow the example of other first world nations and put a massive injection of resources in this budget into Indigenous health of around $500 million per annum."
18 Apr 2007
"To create a fairer Australia the Treasure should be putting better government services and initiatives ahead of tax cuts in this year's budget" said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
Senator Siewert welcomed the release today of ACOSS's A Fairer Australia: Recommendations for the Federal Budget 2007-08
18 Apr 2007
Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson, Senator Siewert, today called on Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act urgently to save the Burrup peninsula, rather than in a few months. She expressed disappointment that the Pluto site did not seem to be included in his plans.
"A cross party delegation of Federal MPs called for emergency listing last year for the entire Rock art precinct because it was exactly that - an emergency," stated Senator Siewert.
05 Apr 2007
"The Australian Greens applaud the launch of the Close the Gap Campaign which promotes practical measures which decrease the Indigenous life expectancy gap of 17 years," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"We need to set real targets and deliver measurable outcomes on pressing issues like chronic disease, infant mortality rates, early childhood development and access to primary health care and affordable medicines," she said.