November 19, 2018

Reports today that the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has once again failed to properly engage with First Nations people and their representative organisations in the Close the Gap Refresh are deeply disappointing.

This is just another example of this government doing things to Indigenous people, instead of with them. Nigel Scullion must take responsibility for this mess. His failure to properly consult is putting the Close the Gap Framework at risk.

The Close the Gap Refresh must involve a genuine partnership with First Nations people if it is to succeed.

Without such a partnership, this critical national project will only get further off track.

Labor supports calls from First Nations peak bodies for a proper process of engagement. 

There can be no agreement to the refresh unless proposed changes have the support of First Nations people.

Simply agreeing new targets or strategies without the support of First Nations people would be a big mistake.

Currently, Australia is on track to meet just three of the seven Close the Gap targets.

It’s clear a new approach is needed; and working with First Nations people is absolutely critical.

That is why Labor supports a Voice for First Nations – so First Nations people can have a say in matters that impact their lives.

The Government dismissal of the proposal for a Voice shows they just don’t understand that Closing the Gap must be done in partnership with First Nations people.

Whether it’s in relation to Close the Gap, the Community Development Program, the Indigenous Advancement Strategy or Constitutional Recognition, this government has consistently pursued flawed policies in First Nations Affairs that have not involved First Nations people in their design or implementation.

Labor will ensure that First Nations people have a genuine say in the policy decisions that affect their live – through a Voice to the Parliament, enshrined in the Constitution.