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Senate votes down call for Government to reallocate $48.7million James Cook “commemoration” fund to Closing the Gap targets

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 15 Feb 2019

The major parties have today combined to vote down the part of a Greens motion calling on the Government to reallocate their James Cook “commemoration” fund. 

“Tomorrow the Prime Minster will present his Closing the Gap address and I will be paying close attention to what he has to say”, Senator Rachel Siewert said.

“There is a list as long as my arm on what we could better spend this money on – for example culturally appropriate suicide prevention services, justice reinvestment and truth telling.

“If we are going to actually close the gap there needs to be a commitment to long term funding.

“This commemoration is a waste of money and until we have proper truth telling about our shared history it is frankly insulting to First Nations peoples to be spending this money to commemorate a man who many people associate with the colonisation of Australia.

“It’s disappointing the ALP didn’t support this reallocation.  

“I hope that if they win Government later in the year they will reconsider their position and reallocate these funds to closing the gap."

The motion reads:

I give notice that on 13 February 2019 we shall move –

That the Senate –

(a)          notes that the Government is spending $48.7 million to commemorate the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage to Australia and the Pacific, of which $6.7 million is being spent on a replica of the HMB Endeavour to circumnavigate Australia;

(b)          recognises that First Nations peoples are still feeling the impacts of on-going dispossession and oppression and continue to have poor health, employment, justice, housing and education outcomes, and high rates of child removals; and

(c)           calls on the Government to reallocate the $48.7 million towards meeting our Closing the Gap targets and a truth telling process.



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