Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:28 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Emergency Management (Senator Watt) to a question without notice I asked today relating to racially motivated violence against First Nations kids.

I note that Minister Watt's response to racially motivated violence against First Nations kids was to talk about youth justice, as if our kids are the problem. We're talking about adults perpetrating violence against our children in this country. The world knows about Cassius, and everyone was touched by that disgusting, violent, racial attack. Even the PM knows about Cassius. But what about all the other children?

In August, a 49-year-old woman mowed down two Aboriginal boys with her four-wheel drive, leaving one, Ronaldo Penny, in a coma for six days with a fractured skull, swelling and bleeding in the brain, and a broken femur. He will carry these injuries for the rest of his life.

In October, a 21-year-old man assaulted 15-year-old Cassius Turvey and a 13-year-old friend who was on crutches. Cassius was beaten to death. The 13-year-old was assaulted and racially vilified before his attacker stole his crutches. One week later—and you didn't hear about this in the media—Lehon Sutton Pickett and his 14-year-old brother-in-law were hunted down in a four-wheel-drive and then assaulted with metal poles. This is in the great country called Oz, isn't it? Horrifically, the details of all this violence are similar: home-made weapons, racial slurs and claims of mistaken identity. These predators know exactly who we are: Aboriginal people on Aboriginal land.

For First Nations people, the violence doesn't stop with the assault. We then have to face a racist police network. They either don't care or actively contribute to the violence. When Lehon was attacked, police attended the scene—get this!—and no-one was arrested. Lehon told officers that he wanted to press charges and the police said that they were too busy. In November, 13-year-old Jayden Abraham was mauled by a police dog. A 13-year-old Aboriginal child was mauled by a police dog! He suffered severe injuries to his face, neck and arm. The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia has called out the disproportionate use of police dogs on First Nations people. In the last year, police dogs were used against First Nations people in 61 per cent of cases.

We know why this is happening: people brag about it online! I quote: 'The dogs would have a fat time munching their bones' and 'Baseball bats or large boltcutters have more than one use; find them and start cutting hands off.' This is barbaric and it's unacceptable. And what's the Prime Minister saying about that? Call it what it is: racially motivated terrorism. People are getting radicalised online, leading to violence on our streets, and the police are part of the problem. Black lives matter; our babies matter. What's the Albanese government going to do about it? What's the McGowan government going to do about it? All of these attacks happened in Western Australia. Labor has the power to protect our babies at the state and federal level, so do something.

It's all talk and no action, Labor! Oh, wait, it's on the agenda for the Attorney-General. But it has been on the agenda for 200 years! Act on what we're telling you: ban unmuzzled police dogs, release all bodycam footage when families ask you to and stop hiding the truth!

Question agreed to.