Closing the Gap - 3 Minute Constituent Statement to Parliament

By David Smith MP

08 October 2020

Mr DAVID SMITH (Bean) (10:24):

Recently I joined a variety of representatives from Canberra Indigenous organisations for a Closing the Gap forum with Linda Burney MP. I would like to thank everyone that attended, including representatives from the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, Winnunga Aboriginal health and community services, Yeddung Mura and individual participants with expertise in Indigenous affairs.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that the new agreement is an important achievement by the Coalition of Peaks, and Labor welcome the new targets that are now much broader in scope. As noted at the forum, the fact that we now have justice targets is vital. There are more First Nations people incarcerated now than when the royal commission was completed way back in 1991. The ACT, unfortunately, is no exception.

Indigenous imprisonment increased by 279 per cent between 2009 and 2019, more than any other state or territory. An Indigenous person is 18.9 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Indigenous person, and 90 per cent of Indigenous detainees had a prior history of incarceration. Labor will commit to reaching the new targets at a national and local level. However, targets are only part of the story. There are no details about how the Morrison government will support organisations to achieve these targets. Targets must be backed by funding, action and accountability. The targets should also be accompanied by greater autonomy in the political domain.

As Labor have said, we are also committed to the Uluru statement in its entirety, including truth-telling, treaty-making and a constitutionally enshrined voice to Parliament.