’Govern­ment still fail­ing to lis­ten’

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

■ North West Abo­rig­i­nal lead­ers have high­lighted a sig­nif­i­cant lack of trust in politi­cians, which they say is wors­ened by her­itage and re­mote com­mu­nity is­sues now be­ing de­bated by State Govern­ment.

Speak­ing late last month at the Yule River meet­ing near Port Hed­land, Ya­matji Marlpa Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chair­woman Doris Ea­ton said the Govern­ment was fail­ing to close the gap be­cause they still weren’t lis­ten­ing.

“The Govern­ment will con­tinue to fail us un­til they start re­ally lis­ten­ing,” she said. “Hope­fully we make (Yule River) the talk­ing place (with min­is­ters) like the old peo­ple did.

“Here I am — the next gen­er­a­tion I’m still fight­ing for ba­sic equal­ity. How many gen­er­a­tions will come af­ter me be­fore this hap­pens?”

Ms Ea­ton said if in­dige­nous peo­ple did not come to­gether to fight for their rights, no one would do it for them.

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Terry Red­man said com­ments at the Yule River meet­ing con­firmed to him there was a se­ri­ous lack of trust in govern­ment by in­dige­nous peo­ple. “That has a his­tory and I don’t pre­tend to be able to put to­gether all the rea­sons as to why peo­ple don’t trust us,” he said.

“Hope­fully our pres­ence here, look­ing th­ese peo­ple in the eye and an­swer­ing the ques­tions they have, hope­fully they have an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of where we’re com­ing from, but also an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of our de­sire to gen­uinely en­gage to get a bet­ter out­come.”

Op­po­si­tion in­dige­nous af­fairs spokesman Ben Wy­att said Pre­mier Colin Bar­nett’s rhetoric about re­mote com­mu­ni­ties added to the dis­dain to­wards politi­cians.

“Mr Bar­nett poi­soned the wa­ters of good­will so now a lot of peo­ple here are sus­pi­cious of the Govern­ment’s mo­tives,” he said.

“Out of all the min­is­ters I think it is prob­a­bly Terry Red­man who has the most ca­pac­ity to try to bring it back.

“There is a huge frus­tra­tion that still ex­ists that govern­ment still isn’t con­sult­ing with Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple in a way that is get­ting broad con­sen­sus.”

Kim­ber­ley Land Coun­cil deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Ty­ronne Bar­stone said Mr Red­man had been proac­tive in “chang­ing the di­a­logue” about re­mote com­mu­ni­ties since Mr Bar­nett’s orig­i­nal com­ments last year.

Terry Red­man

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