Call to weed out ‘fake’ Aboriginals
by Sean Burke
Photo: Chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, Mr Michael Mansell
Internal bickering has broken out among senior Tasmanian Aboriginals as they scramble to rescue a treaty with the island’s State government.
The treaty, which aims to recognise some harsh treatment of Aboriginals during early settlement, risks being derailed by racial confusion.
There is growing “resentment” the treaty will recognise people who have no historical claim to indigenous status.
The number of Tasmanians who self-identify as Aboriginal has increased by 65,000 per cent since the mid-1960s. (From 36 in 1966 to 23,572 in 2016).
This has resulted in “palpable resentment, anger and frustration among many Aboriginals”, according to a State government report.
According to the report, written by former State governor Kate Warner and war crimes advisor Tim McCormack, the first step towards a treaty must be determining who is “eligible” as Aboriginal for treaty purposes.
Chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, Mr Michael Mansell, said there was a danger the treaty could be sidetracked.
“We can’t have one treaty for the past 230 years and say ‘that’s fixed it and it’s all okay”.
Premier Peter Gutwein, who supports a treaty, has side-stepped the division saying he would reveal his government’s next steps when parliament resumes in March.
The government is currently considering the report and engaging with stakeholders.