WA MP’s com­ments la­belled racist

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

WA MHR Den­nis Jensen is un­der fire for al­leged racism to­wards in­dige­nous peo­ple af­ter com­ments made in Fed­eral Par­lia­ment last month.

The Lib­eral MP re­ferred to Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple liv­ing in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties as “noble savages” and re­peated for­mer prime min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott’s in­fa­mous “life­style choices” com­ment. “There should be no def­i­ni­tion of what it is to be Abo­rig­i­nal any more than say an Ir­ish-Aus­tralian should have a def­i­ni­tion and a per­cent­age of Ir­ish blood that he or she should have in or­der to be de­scribed as Ir­ish-Aus­tralian,” Dr Jensen said.

“In essence, if the noble sav­age life­style, a la Jean-Jac­ques Rousseau, the same one of­ten eu­lo­gised, is true, then there is noth­ing stop- ping any in­dige­nous men or women from pur­su­ing such an ex­is­tence on their own.

“Just do not ex­pect the tax­pay­ers to sub­sidise it.”

When asked dur­ing Ques­tion Time, In­dige­nous Affairs Min­is­ter Nigel Scul­lion de­scribed Dr Jensen’s com­ments as “un­help­ful”.

Aus­tralian Greens Sen­a­tor Rachel Siew­ert said Dr Jensen had dis­played ig­no­rance of Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture and tra­di­tion. “West Aus­tralians will find it ex­tremely un­com­fort­able that such re­marks are con­sid­ered ac­cept­able by Den­nis Jensen,who rep­re­sents the WA fed­eral seat of Tangney,” she said.

“For Dr Jensen to try to re-open this dis­cus­sion achieves noth­ing other than reaf­firm­ing how dis­crim­i­na­tory the di­nosaurs of the coali­tion can be.

“In terms of Dr Jensen’s view that there should be no ‘spe­cific in­dige­nous pol­icy’, I would like to point out that en­trenched dis­ad­van­tage spans decades and the gap in life ex­pectancy will not close un­less we specif­i­cally ad­dress the is­sue.”

Greens Mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Robin Chap­ple said Dr Jensen’s com­ments were “racism in the ex­treme”.

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