Australia: Advocating designated seats for Aboriginals in Parliament

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DESIGNATED Aboriginal seats, based on a New Zealand system, is the only way to guarantee Aboriginal representation in the Tasmanian Parliament, says the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

The proposal is outlined in a submission to the Redistribution Tribunal as it looks at a proposed major shake-up of the state’s electoral boundaries for the Legislative Council.

In January the Tasmanian Electoral Commission released a proposal to change the boundaries for the state’s Upper House.

The tribunal received 29 submissions from a range of councils, organisations, political parties and Legislative Council members.

In a submission supporting a proposal by founding member Michael Mansell, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre chief executive Heather Sculthorpe said the current configuration of Tasmanian electorates disadvantaged the state’s Aboriginal people who had no hope of “electing their own” to Parliament.

“There is only one way to guarantee Aboriginal representation in the Tasmanian Parliament,” the submission said.

“This is through a number of designated Aboriginal seats, which the Parliament can legislate to allow for, and to which Aborigines can vote their own representatives. The success of this model is evident with the Maori in New Zealand.”

In New Zealand, there are seven Maori electorates, which has grown from four.

The Tasmanian Liberal Party said any changes to the boundaries would cause chaos at this year’s Legislative Council election while the State Labor Party supported many of the proposed adjustments.

Today the tribunal will hold the first of three public hearing inquiries into the redistribution of boundaries.

It will be held at the TasWater building in Moonah at 10am. Another hearing will be held there tomorrow.



Cross-posted from The Mercury: