Bill's Media Releases

STATEMENT - FIRST MEETING OF THE NATIONAL LABOR INDIGENOUS CAUCUS - TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2017

Yesterday, Indigenous Labor MPs from the Commonwealth, State and Territory parliaments met in Brisbane to establish a National Labor Indigenous Caucus, to drive greater representation of Indigenous peoples in our nation’s parliaments.

The meeting – involving 30 Labor MPs from federal, state and territory parliaments – agreed to begin work on increasing the number of Indigenous people enrolled to vote, and growing the number of Indigenous people in our party and representation in Parliaments across Australia. 

The meeting was hosted by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and joined by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley, Tasmanian Labor Leader Bryan Green and Indigenous Affairs Ministers and Shadow Ministers from every jurisdiction. 

We need greater representation to help us shape a better future for Indigenous Australians and for all Australians.  

The clear message from Labor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is this: we want you to join our movement. 

Having such large numbers of people off the electoral roll means Indigenous people don't have the voice they should.  In some areas, more than 50 per cent of people aren’t enrolled to vote. 

It's critical that we do more to ensure all Australians are enrolled so they can have their voice heard in Canberra. 

Labor is determined to increase the representation of Indigenous people in our Parliament and in our Party. 

If we are going to bring about that change, we need more Indigenous people leading the conversation. 

That means: 

  • More indigenous people on the electoral role – having a say in who forms government;

  • More Indigenous people in our party – helping us develop the right policies; and

  • More Indigenous people in our parliaments, taking leadership roles and driving change. 

In addition to agreeing to establish a National Indigenous Caucus, yesterday's meeting agreed to begin work on: 

  1. Undertaking an enrolment drive to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the 1967 referendum, and to prepare for a referendum on constitutional recognition.
  2. Developing a Reconciliation Action Plan, to make sure we are doing all we can to make Labor a culturally supportive organisation.
  3. Undertaking a survey of current members to determine the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians that are already in our party, and pushing for more regular reporting of progress in boosting Indigenous party membership.
  4. Developing a Labor Indigenous Leaders program, where emerging leaders are paired with sitting MPs and given one-on-one mentoring and support.
  5. Hosting an annual gathering of emerging Indigenous Leaders with Federal, State and Territory MPs.  

Labor wants our current Indigenous MPs – leaders like Senator Patrick Dodson, Linda Burney, and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – to inspire a new round Indigenous leaders to join Labor, and help make Australia a fairer place for every single Australian. 

TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2017 


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