MEDIA RELEASE: GOVERNMENT CUTS LEAVE INDIGENOUS ENROLMENT RATES LAGGING
March 14, 2019
Australian Electoral Commission figures released this week show the Liberals and Nationals are failing to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can exercise their right to vote.
According to the AEC figures, 23.6 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally are not enrolled, with alarmingly low rates of enrolment in the Northern Territory (32.5 per cent not enrolled) and Western Australia (36.2 per cent not enrolled).
The Abbott / Turnbull / Morrison Government cut 80 per cent of AEC staff from NT in 2017, leaving just three staff, and failed to put in place any replacement for the programs that were in place to drive Aboriginal enrolment.
The AEC has made progress on Indigenous enrolment nationally, but its efforts towards closing the gap in areas with greater proportions of Indigenous Australians unenrolled have been stalled by the Government’s savage cuts.
As of 30 June 2018, there were 16,433 Aboriginal people in the NT, and 23,363 Aboriginal people in WA, who were not on the roll and had little or no prospect of being enrolled before the next Federal election.
The situations in the NT and WA figures show why Labor stood up against the Government’s cuts to the AEC and successfully fought to stop complete closure of the AEC’s NT office.
It is a disgrace and the government could do something about it now, if they wanted to.
In his final days as Minister, Senator Nigel Scullion should be working to ensure that all Territorians are represented, and that these vital programs to enrol First Nations people are reinstated.