News Sandy's Comments

Truth-telling at the heart of reconciliation

Aunty Dr Jill Gallagher AO is a proud Gunditjmara woman, a former Treaty Advancement Commissioner, and Chief Executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. She provided an opening keynote speech at the Statewide Treaty Gathering in which she outlined ten things she suggests must be part of a Statewide Treaty. They are her views, and not policy of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria.

She suggests that Aboriginal People must be exempt from Land Tax (including stamp duty), and council rates, and have access to interest free loans to empower Aboriginal People to purchase homes. She highlighted  the fact that Aboriginal people historically were robbed of the opportunity to generate wealth, and could not purchase land and homes. In the education space, she said Aboriginal People must be exempt from HECS / HELP fees. Tertiary education must be provided to Aboriginal students without charge. Her focus was on addressing historic disadvantage and closing the gap in identified areas of concern.

Unfortunately, it has generated a response from politicians who are using social media to spread mistruths.

The campaign demands a response.

Fact checking
The social posts incorrectly state that Premier Jacinta Allan has said that race-based tax is on the table in Victoria. She has not. And it is not. Furthermore, one of the posts states that the State Government is considering tax, including land tax and stamp duty, being imposed based on race. This is blatantly untrue and seems to be designed to stir up racism and fear.

In fact, the Premier has explicitly declined to comment on whether the Government would accept or reject the ideas proposed by Aunty Dr Jill Gallagher. Firstly, she had not seen the comments at the time she was interviewed. Secondly, the views expressed in Aunty Dr Jill Gallagher’s speech belong to her, and are not policy, nor even proposed policy. When the First People’s Assembly have formulated policies there will be an opportunity for negotiation and dialogue. At that point, the Government will consider whether to accept or reject proposals.

Why is this important?
Race issues have grown significantly since the Referendum was defeated. Some people have become emboldened in the way they disparage Aboriginal people and Aboriginal culture. Eddie Betts’ sons recently had a racial slur yelled at them repeatedly while they were playing basketball at their home. They are now too scared to go out and play basketball at night. This kind of racist behaviour is completely unacceptable and is emboldened further by fear campaigns.

We can expect that our elected officials will behave in a way that shows respect for all people in their electorate, and not stir up racist thinking and behaviour for political purposes.

We need political leadership that shows a commitment to reconciliation in this country, and strategies to close the gap.

As Christians, let us “aim to respect, value and acknowledge the unique cultures, spiritualities, histories and languages of the oldest surviving culture in the world, and to engage in a unified and positive relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities”. (Source: TSA RAP)

What can you do?

  • Contact your local Member of Parliament by letter or email or in person to respectfully express your concerns.
  • Be clear you expect politicians to work together for the common good.
  • Use your own socials to raise concerns.