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Feb 11, 2020

Australian Politics: Morrison vows new approach to Closing the Gap as he says latest results ‘not good enough’

Luke Henriques-Gomes



No matter what you may think of politicians in general, there are those who actually care about outcomes.
The minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt with Shadow minister Linda Burney after the Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered the Closing the Gap report 2020
The minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt with Shadow minister Linda Burney after the Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered the Closing the Gap report 2020 Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Darren Chester tweets that he's fine and having tests done

Darren Chester has tweeted, following his collapse:
Darren Chester MP (@DarrenChesterMP)
Rumours of my demise have been exaggerated. Thanks everyone for their kind messages of concern and the bipartisan medical team of MPs, Parliament staff and colleagues who’ve rallied to check on my welfare. I feel fine and just going to have a few tests done. #lovegippsland
February 12, 2020
Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP)
Glad to hear you're okay, mate. Get better soon. https://t.co/pxwqL9jNSk
February 12, 2020
Updated

Anthony Albanese finishes with this:To Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples I say you have been patient. Patient beyond any ordinary level of comprehension.
Your tenacity and your patience have been tested and your generosity has been truly humbling.
As a nation we are tantalisingly close to the cusp of something new. Not the reinvention of Australia but the realisation of a greater one.
An Australia that draws into its heart the generosity to heal and be healed, to honour and be honoured.
To find courage to begin the process of truth telling and national treaty making.
An Australia that is closing every one of the gaps, every one of the chasms that divide and belittle us all.
When we consider all of our achievements as a nation we should be confident that these challenges are not beyond us. Let us take them up and let our modern nation stand whole, proud and reconciled alongside this continent’s many ancient ones.
As that great Yunupingu said, we started a fire. We hope it turns bright for Australia.
Updated

Anthony Albanese:Through it, we must come to grips with the realities of our colonial past, that began with the arrival of the first fleet in 1788.
Life could never be the same again.
Not for those watching from the shore. The latest on this continent’s unbroken line of generations stretching back over so many millennia. The world’s oldest continuing culture. How proud are we of that.
Not for the new arrivals, representatives of what they thought was the old world, to a world far older as they came together that day, collisions were set in train and as a new society steadily rose to its feet the mosaic of ancient societies was brought to its knees.
From that point, for our First Nations people it was a history shaped by brutality, a brutality sometimes born of misunderstanding but more often it was not.
A brutality that has echoed darkly through every generation that has followed.
Updated

Anthony Albanese:Embarking upon truth telling hopefully will help us all towards liberation and the betterment of our nation.
We have been moving slowly beyond our erasure of Indigenous achievement. We are putting behind us what William Stanger called the cold of forgetfulness, the great Australian silence.
Look at what Bruce Pascoe has done with Dark Emu. In this one extraordinary book, Bruce has unearthed the knowledge we already had in our possession and chose to vary along the way.
Ignorance feeds in darkness.
Bruce has simply reminded us where the light switch is.
And with the flick of the switch, the complex mosaic of ancient nations is suddenly laid before us in light as bright as those early European explorers first saw it and recorded it.
The voice cannot be the end of the story, but must be followed by truth telling, and the telling of that truth must be entire.
Updated

Bob Katter declares war on 'white fella government'

Bob Katter has called a press conference for 12.30 to respond to the Closing the Gap latest report, with this statement:We have had enough. You’ve had your chance Mr White Fella Government. Your own report card reads “FAILED MISERABLY”. I will be disclosing on behalf of my Black Fella brother cousins in the north the action we will now be taking.
It is time for war.
Updated

Anthony Albanese:
At its most basic level, the denial of a constitutionally enshrined voice is a denial of the Australian instinct for a fair go.
Despite all the tests it is put through, the instinct for a fair go remains one of the great defining points of our national character.
The voice is a modest request that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples be consulted about issues and policies that directly affect them. That’s what it is. It is not a third chamber.
It is not deliberative. It merely seeks to put a structure around what we would all regard, as Australians, as decency, as courtesy, and as respect, that where something is going to have an impact on someone else, we talk to them.
That’s what the voice is. Nothing greater than that, but also nothing less. Nothing less.
And it shouldn’t be beyond our capacity to take the hand of friendship which has been reached out to us and is waiting to be shaken.
Because that is an act of extraordinary generosity, given the history of our great nation over the last 200 plus years.

Anthony Albanese:
We have before us an opportunity for bipartisanship we cannot afford to miss. Our international credibility is linked to our integrity with First Nations people.
The minister and the prime minister had the opportunity to do something that they will be remembered for, and we will support them. However, as Linda Burney has put it, there is a danger that the Uluru statement will end up being remembered as a noble moment, but not as a turning point, and we cannot allow that to happen.
At its most basic level, the denial of a constitutionally enshrined voice is a denial of the Australian instinct for a fair go.
Despite all the tests it is put through, the instinct for a fair go remains one of the great defining points of our national character.
The voice is a modest request that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples be consulted about issues and policies that directly affect them. That’s what it is. It is not a third chamber.
It is not deliberative.
It merely seeks to put a structure around what we would all regard, as Australians, as decency, as courtesy, and as respect, that where something is going to have an impact on someone else, we talk to them.
That’s what the voice is. Nothing greater than that, but also nothing less. Nothing less.
And it shouldn’t be beyond our capacity to take the hand of friendship which has been reached out to us and is waiting to be shaken.
Because that is an act of extraordinary generosity, given the history of our great nation over the last 200 plus years.
Updated

Anthony Albanese:
Rates of First Nations people in custody are still way too high. First Nations adults are just 2% of the population, but they make up 27% of the prison population.
Suicide, particularly among young people, is still ripping families and communities apart.
The number of children being put in out-of-home care is a national shame, and is a consequence of policy failure by governments.
We want to work with the government, but we do expect some urgency, passion and diligence to be brought into this space.
We cannot keep coming back here, year in, year out, wringing our hands. The new way forward has to be led by First Nations people in meaningful and mutually agreed partnerships.
That way forward has been mapped out for us in the Uluru statement, a document of unadorned power to which Labor is fully committed.
That way forward is voice, truth telling and agreement making. When the member for Hasluck was appointed minister for Indigenous Australians, Labor welcomed it as the right decision, and we wish him well.
Indeed, when I spoke at a festival in east Arnhem Land last year, I expressed the hope that his colleagues would give him the support that he needed, and that he deserved.
I am concerned that this process may end in disappointment.
Updated

Darren Chester collapses in House. Office says he's OK.

In regards to that post a little bit ago about the MPs who are doctors being called to a situation, Rob Harris from the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald reports Darren Chester had collapsed.
rob harris (@rharris334)
Veterans Affairs Minister Darren Chester "collapsed" in the House of Reps during Closing The Gap speech. Medics with him, including MPs Katie Allen and Mike Freelander. Office says he's "ok".
February 12, 2020
Chester has not had a break – his electorate of Gippsland was seriously affected by the summer bushfires, and his return to parliament began with leadership wobbles in the Nationals.
Hope he is OK.
Updated

Anthony Albanese says while the national apology to Indigenous people was welcomed and well overdue, it also made clear “there was inequality and disparity that needed reconciliation”.
That there were key indicators showing the disadvantage resulting from more than two centuries of dispossession, discrimination, racism, and sometimes violent oppression.
This was an indictment upon us as a modern nation. There were many gaps, but some appeared more urgent than others. These indicators include life expectancy, child mortality, school attendance, reading and numeracy, employment, early childhood, and the attainment of year 12 or equivalent.
Practical measures with targets. After 12 years, it is tragic that we aren’t on track for five of these seven targets, including life expectancy, child mortality and employment. It is an indictment that, of all of these targets, we are on track for only two.
The problem was not that the targets were too ambitious. They were not. They were modest. And in the spirit of Paul Keating’s 1992 Redfern speech, the failure to meet the target is our failure. Our failure, not theirs. The fact is that the two targets that are being met are welcome, particularly the finishing of year 12, as the prime minister has said. What that shows is that progress is possible. But the fact is, also, we can and we must do better.
We speak of closing the gap, but the truth is that on so many of these measures, there is a gap. It’s a chasm.
Updated

Labor's response to Closing the Gap report

Anthony Albanese is delivering his response to the latest report:
Since 2008 I have sat in this place on this day and I have listened to fine speeches from prime ministers and opposition leaders alike.
And afterwards, so often, I have heard members of the press gallery say that days like ‘today’ show the parliament at its best.
But, Mr Speaker, if this day adds up to nothing but sentiment and speeches, if this occasion becomes merely a ceremonial renewal of good intentions and a promise to do better next time, that is so far short of parliament at its best.
So far short of Australia at our best. Because in the end, it is not the prime minister’s voice or the opposition leader’s voice that should be heard on this day on this issue.
It is the voice of the First Australians. It is the voice of over 60,000 years of culture, of story, a community, of kinship.
It is the voice articulating the torment of our powerlessness from the Uluru statement that must be heard.
Over 60,000 years of love for this country, their country, our country, the continent that we share; enshrining the voice in our constitution is a great and unifying mission.
More than a century overdue.
But that recognition is not the end of the road.
It must be the clarion bell of a change from what has been; enshrining the voice to parliament will be the work of one successful referendum.
But listening to the voice, ensuring the voice is heard in this House and Senate, ensuring the voice speaks in the design and delivery of policy, ensuring the voice advocates the rights and interests of First Nations peoples, that is a task of national political leadership.
Updated

Scott Morrison finishes his speech:
This goes to the heart of who we are. In partnership with Indigenous Australians, with respect for their wisdom and capabilities, and appreciation for their grace towards their fellow Australians, we are beginning this next chapter in Closing the Gap.
To see the gap, to see the challenges, to see the opportunities, to understand the hope, to see the way through Indigenous eyes.
A chapter which allows us to believe in a day when Indigenous children of this land have the same opportunities as every other Australian child.

Scott Morrison:
Finally, Mr Speaker, I want to be clear as prime minister: I respect constitutional recognition.
In 2019 the joint committee into constitutional recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples delivered a bipartisan report.
Our government adopted the four bipartisan recommendations in this report, in particular recommendation one.
In order to design a voice that best meets the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the committee recommends a process of co-design between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and government be initiated in communities across Australia to design a voice that can help deliver practical outcomes for that community.
This is our government’s policy. It is clear from the committee’s report that more work needs to be done on a voice proposal.
The government has always supported giving Indigenous people more of a say at the local level.
We support the process of co-design of the voice because if we are going to change the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the ground we need [to chart] the policies that affect them.
The committee did not make recommendations as to the legal form of the voice, constitutional or legislation.
It recommended considering this matter after the process of co-design is complete, and that is what we’re doing.
We support finalising co-design.
We also support recommendations about truth telling. Australians are interested in having a fuller understanding of their history, both the history, traditions and also the culture course of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and also contact between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Updated

Scott Morrison:
Indigenous young people are almost four times more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to take their own lives. Tackling suicide, all suicides, is a national priority.
In tackling this national priority we are using targeted strategies. We have unveiled Australia’s largest ever youth mental health and suicide prevention package.
Two of the 12 trials being funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people specifically. In the last budget we committed $4.5m for Indigenous leaders to work on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention plan, plan that recognises the value of community and provide services are culturally safe and accessible and are well connected to each other and the broader community.
From that came a body called proud of spirit. That will support Indigenous leadership in suicide prevention.
We are working alongside community members and frontline services who serve the community selflessly with strong and open hearts. Indigenous liaison officers, Indigenous stop design nurses.
In the last three years, nearly 5,000 people in more than 180 regional and remote communities have completed mental health first aid training, a program that expanded in the last budget.
89,000 people became accredited instructors. We are creating solutions that are local and developed in partnership with Indigenous communities.
Updated

A few MPs have just told me that the MPs who are also doctors have just been called from the chamber.
I hope everyone is OK.
Updated

Scott Morrison:
Mr Speaker, in days, some in this chamber will remember the government had absolute control over the lives of Aboriginal people, where they could live, where they could travel, who they could marry.
Government files held details, often brutal in their brevity, that the people themselves were not allowed to know.
Mr Speaker, I have one such file here with me. From the native welfare department ... A file of ... the native welfare department, the file is for a boy, a teenager.
In this file are notes about for school uniforms and there is a memo to the commissioner of native welfare about whether the boy should be provided pocket money of 75 cents a week. 75 cents a week.
Bureaucrats making decisions for what they paternally call a good type of lad.
Think about a life where even the most basic decision-making is stripped away from you. By governance thinking that they know better.
Fortunately, that boy was bigger than the times.
And I am honoured that he now sits behind me as the minister for Indigenous Australians.
The chamber applauds Ken Wyatt.

Updated

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