27 June 2017

Today the Senate passed a motion I co-sponsored calling on the Government to make good on the $10 million for Machado Josephs Disease Foundation.

The Federal Government has begrudgingly been forced by the courts, now backed by the Senate, to make good on the $10 million owed to the MJD Foundation.

In response to the motion, Liberal Senator James McGrath said:

The government does not support this motion. The government does not support the use of royalty payments intended for Aboriginal communities to fund health services that governments should support.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs has already written to the MJD Foundation to advise that the government will not be appealing the Federal

Court's decision and that the grant will be paid shortly. In addition, the government has been providing $500,000 a year to the MJD Foundation, more than the interest that will be earned from this inappropriate grant.

On March 3 the Federal Court dismissed Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullions second appeal to revoke the grant. In its verdict the Court reaffirmed that the Minister did not have the power to revoke the decision of the previous Government.

MJD is a debilitating disease caused by genetic mutation which affects Aboriginal across the Top End. MJD patients eventually become paralysed and face a premature death.

The MJD foundation is a charity established in 2008 to improve quality of life for Indigenous Australians and their families living withMachado Joseph Disease in Arnhem Land and beyond.

The motion moved in the Senate:

  1. notes that Machado-Joseph Disease is a particularly cruel neurodegenerative condition, which has its highest prevalence in the world in East Arnhem Land;
  2. notes that the Machado-Joseph Disease Foundation was awarded a $10 million grant by the previous government and it has never received this funding;
  3. acknowledges that the final of three payments of $500,000 to the Machado-Joseph Disease Foundation will be expiring in June; and
  4. calls on the Federal Government to make good on the $10 million grant and provide a single payment of $500,000 to assist the foundation.