Premier says NSW pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate for 'bet­ter deal' with Abo­rig­i­nal groups

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Lorena Al­lam

The New South Wales premier, Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian, says her govern­ment is pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate three pri­or­i­ties with the new coali­tion of peak Abo­rig­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Her com­mit­ment fol­lows a march and rally by around 1,000 Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple out­side state par­lia­ment on Thurs­day.

The newly formed coali­tion of NSW land coun­cils, med­i­cal, le­gal ser­vices, child and fam­ily ser­vices and ed­u­ca­tion ad­vo­cates rep­re­sents thou­sands of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple across the state.

“I’ve is­sued a chal­lenge ... to iden­tify three pri­or­i­ties,” the premier said.

“Let’s all de­cide what the pri­or­i­ties are and move for­ward. I want to see ac­tion. I want to see a fo­cus, I want to see progress, I want to see you telling us what we need to do to sup­port your com­mu­ni­ties.

“We’re not go­ing to agree on every­thing, but let’s have a dis­cus­sion about what’s most im­por­tant to you and what we can do to im­prove the op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing into the fu­ture.”

About 1,000 peo­ple marched on state par­lia­ment, some hav­ing trav­elled sev­eral hours or overnight to be there, to de­mand “self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and a bet­ter deal” for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple, and to reaf­firm sup­port for the Uluru State­ment from the Heart.

Lead­ing the march, the chair­man of the NSW Abo­rig­i­nal Land Coun­cil, Roy Ah-See, told the crowd it was past time for politi­cians to lis­ten.

“There’s un­fin­ished busi­ness in this coun­try and this state. We want you to buy into this, we want you to show lead­er­ship.”

“Walk with us, talk with us, lis­ten to us. Our his­tory is your his­tory.”

Ad­dress­ing the politi­cians he said: “You are bur­dened with a big re­spon­si­bil­ity to rep­re­sent your con­stituents, which comes at a very high price, but you rep­re­sent us too. We’re on this jour­ney to­gether.”

Ah-See jok­ingly said he thought he’d heard the premier had asked the coali­tion for five pri­or­i­ties.

“Roy says five, I say three,” Bere­jik­lian said later. “Let me give you some ad­vice. If you give govern­ment five things to do, we might do two or three but if you give us three things to do, we’ll do all three.”

The NSW op­po­si­tion leader, Luke Fo­ley, told Guardian Aus­tralia that La­bor sup­ports a treaty process in NSW.

“We’re ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed that Turn­bull threw the Uluru state­ment into the rub­bish bin,” Fo­ley said. “Our com­mit­ment is to ne­go­ti­at­ing a treaty. This is where coloni­sa­tion com­menced, lit­er­ally a stone’s throw from NSW Par­lia­ment House.

“I’ve lis­tened to the voices of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple across the state, and there’s a de­sire, a thirst for ne­go­ti­at­ing a new part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ments. Treaty, we be­lieve, is the way for­ward.

“I’ve made that com­mit­ment, to ne­go­ti­ate a treaty or treaties with the state’s first peo­ples if we’re elected to govern­ment, but it would be great if both sides of par­lia­ment could com­mit to that.”

Pho­to­graph: Carly Earl for the Guardian

The big­gest Abo­rig­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions in NSW marched on Par­lia­ment House on Thurs­day to de­manded the govern­ment com­mit to a ‘new agenda’ for Abo­rig­i­nal rights.

Pho­to­graph: Carly Earl for the Guardian

NSW premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian: ‘I want to see you telling us what we need to do to sup­port your com­mu­ni­ties.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.