Wednesday, 8 March 2023
Closing the Gap, National Apology to the Stolen Generations: 15th Anniversary
As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia I serve all people of Australia. I want to celebrate especially the Aboriginal people of this country. There is a higher proportion of Aboriginals in the NRL's elite athletes, higher than across the community. There's also a higher proportion in the AFL. Scientists, lawyers, parliamentarians, government—Aboriginals are part of these groups and doing a fine job. They're doing well in business, people like Warren Mundine; in carers roles—people like police, nurses, doctors—and the previous speaker mentioned Steve Fordham from Blackrock Industries who's doing a phenomenal job, and now he has been gutted by the bureaucracy. I note Ash Dodd in Queensland who is sponsoring the Collinsville coal fired power station project. Senators like Nampijinpa Price and Kerrynne Liddle are telling the truth, which is so important.
Senator Pauline Hanson is uneasy with praise but probably watching in her office. When I was first elected, I approached the office of our party in the suburb of Albion. I was met at the door in our car park by three Northern Territory Aboriginals who had come down specifically to meet with us because, they said, 'Pauline Hanson is the only one who understands the Aboriginal plight and the only one willing to stand up and say so and speak out for what they need.' I will say that, if the Howard government had adopted her policies, we would now have no gap or a little gap. The Caucasian and Aboriginal people I have met in travelling through every Cape York community and the people I have met in other Northern Territory communities are quietly getting on with it and doing a stellar job. They're closing the gap. I'll tell you about an Islander who was on a council in the Torres Strait. He told me that Closing the Gap perpetuates the gap because the consultants that feed off this program actually have to maintain the gap in order to keep their money. That is what perpetuates the gap.
There are many challenges our nation faces, and every problem I see around our country is due to government. I am ashamed of governments, state and federal, and churches who blindly assumed they knew what was best for the Aboriginals—good intentions maybe, but arrogantly and ignorantly paternalistic and patronising, cruel, damaging, stultifying. I am angry with the Aboriginal industry. Communities tell me of Noel Pearson interfering, land councils acting as effectively robber barons controlling land, water, resources and funds. Billions of dollars every year supposedly go to the people on the ground, but are interceded by these robber barons. The Aboriginal industry is perpetuating victimhood, but, worse, fomenting hate and separation because that's what their industry is based on and they want it to continue.
The current government is proposing the Voice to instil and make racism systemic, separating and dividing. It follows and perpetuates a disgraceful legacy of paternalism and victimhood which harms all members of our Australian community. Actions need to follow words. We need to unify, not separate. Solving problems requires listening to people to understand their needs. Giving people their freedom to get on with their lives builds responsibility and freedom. We need to give the Aboriginal people freedom, especially in the Aboriginal communities. Addressing all of Australia's problems begins with acknowledging government as the cause of the problems, and the solution is getting government out of people's lives, honouring and respecting our Commonwealth of Australia's Constitution.
I want and look forward to uniting Australia into one nation. Worst of all, the Voice will perpetuate the hollow, deceitful policies of Labor, the Greens and, to a lesser extent, the LNP. It's a dishonest distraction that will perpetuate the gap, perpetuate the cruel infliction of punishment and deprivation. We need policies for lifting all Australians. That requires policies for restoring sovereignty, implementing sound and honest governance based on data and facts—honesty policy—and, first of all, listening to understand people's needs. Then, instead of doing things to look good, actually do good.