Changes to Tasmanian definition of Aboriginal welcome - but independent investigation into the management of hundreds of millions is also needed: Lambie

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has welcomed the Tasmanian State Government’s policy change, which overhauls how Aboriginal eligibility is determined but has called for a forensic audit into the management of Tasmania’s public funds for Indigenous people.

Senator Lambie has placed her call on YouTube:

“ I want a forensic audit of at least a decade’s worth of state and federal financial records relating to Tasmanian indigenous affairs.  If money has gone missing or been misappropriated, I want the guilty to be held accountable,” said Senator Lambie.

“I welcome the Tasmanian State Government’s policy change, which adjusts how Aboriginal eligibility is determined.  It’s something I’ve been calling for since I was elected.  I believe that Premier Hodgman didn’t have much of a choice - because the Tasmanian law is in conflict with the Federal law and the Federal Racial Discrimination Act.

Tasmania should have the same rules that the Commonwealth has for determining who is - or who is not an Aboriginal person.  How did we get to a situation where the Federal government said there were 18,000 Aboriginal people in Tasmania – and the State government said there were only 6000 people who were indigenous?” said Senator Lambie.

Premier Will Hodgman’s announcement that his government will scrap the current eligibility policy and replace it with one consistent with the Federal eligibility process, is vindication for the indigenous whistleblowers who asked for my help and an independent voice in the Senate,” said Senator Lambie.

“The speech I delivered in the Senate on Tuesday, 23 September 2014:

See here

… where I raised the alarm about the injustices and rorts in the current Tasmanian state system to determine Aboriginality, has obviously had a significant effect on the Federal and State governments’ Indigenous Affairs Policy.  We’ve had positive changes to Indigenous Legal Aid management from the Federal Attorney-General, and now Indigenous recognition from Premier Hodgman, ” said Senator Lambie.

Relentless political pressure has paid off for Indigenous whistleblowers

Between my landmark Indigenous speech in the Senate late 2014 and today, I’ve written and referred the crisis of management of Indigenous Affairs in Tasmania to the: Prime Minister, the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, the Australian Federal Police and Human Rights Commission for investigation.  Premier Hodgman’s announcement is proof my relentless political pressure on this issue has paid off,” said Senator Lambie.

“In his 2016 Australia Day address, Premier Hodgman, essentially, has repeated the point and warning contained in my Senate speech from 2014 when I said: According to Parliamentary Library study, there are more than 19,000 Tasmanians who claim Aboriginal ancestry who live in Tasmania.  However, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) and associated Mansell family members and friends - who are effectively in charge of the official state recognition of Indigenous people - only acknowledge approximately 3000 Tasmanians who claim official Indigenous recognition. This fact alone should ring alarm bells.

Key questions that must be answered by forensic audit

With the official acknowledgment by the Premier of a contradiction, human rights failure and failure of Tasmanian law (namely that the state recognises about 6000 Tasmanian Aboriginal people, while the Federal Government recognised 18,000 Tasmanian Aboriginal people) there are a couple of key questions that must be answered:

  1. What happened to hundred’s of millions in Federal Government resources and funds over the years - which were allocated for the 18,000 Indigenous Tasmanians – was it only spent on 6000?
  1. Were those funds unfairly, unjustly, or illegally allocated only to 6000 Indigenous Tasmanians instead of 18,000?
To answer all the questions, including serious allegations of misconduct involving the management of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, that’s why I want a forensic audit of at least a decade’s worth of State and Federal financial records relating to Tasmanian Indigenous affairs.” said Senator Lambie.