The Prime Minister's latest Closing the Gap update has sadly, and unsurprisingly, shown that the disparity and disadvantage persists.
For eight long years, the Government has shunted its responsibility for progress on Closing the Gap to states and territories; on future parliaments and future generations.
The Prime Minister promises a new approach, but the question is, is this new money, or is this another shiny new announcement from existing funds. This is Government that always misses the mark when it comes to delivery.
Listening to and empowering First Nations people will be at the very core of Labor’s approach to Closing the Gap and Reconciliation, and we have had an ongoing commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Anthony Albanese has publicly reiterated this commitment including in his opinion piece "Indigenous Voice Must Be Heard for Nation to Be Whole", and in this recent Closing the Gap speech:
In addition, in the environment portfolio, there are opportunities to create jobs and promote caring for country.
Empowering First Nations people & caring for land and waters
First Nations peoples have authority, knowledge and experience derived from many millennia of custodianship over land and water.
Labor will double the number of Indigenous Rangers – who play a vital role in the restoration and preservation of land and water – to 3,800 jobs by the end of the decade.
We will work towards a target of gender equality in ranger positions so that these roles are accessible to all.
Labor will boost funding for management of Indigenous Protected Areas, providing $10 million each year.
We will provide certainty for Ranger groups and IPAs by committing to longer contracts and requiring that contract extension negotiations begin no later than eighteen months before the end of the contract.
Labor will deliver the $40 million of cultural water promised in 2018 but not yet delivered by the Morrison Government.
We will work to increase First Nations peoples’ ownership of water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin by providing a full response to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations in its National Water Reform report.
And we will make sure that First Nations peoples’ authority, knowledge and experience better informs the work of relevant agencies and is incorporated into planning for environmental watering.
I spoke about these commitments in the parliament: