Graeme Mundine, Executive Director of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Sydney Archdiocese, has lamented the Senate’s passing of the Stronger Futures Legislation on Thursday evening. “This is a sad day for all Aboriginal people in Australia and it is a sad day for democracy,” Mr Mundine said.
“The Stronger Futures legislation has now passed through both Houses of Parliament despite comprehensive opposition from Northern Territory Aboriginal Nations, community groups, Churches, welfare groups and others. More than 43,000 people have signed a petition and more than 450 submissions were made to the Senate inquiry. International Human Rights bodies have criticized the legislation and countless letters have been sent to Parliamentarians. Most importantly, Aboriginal people have made it clear that issues can be better addressed through respectful partnerships rather than through racist and discriminatory legislation.
“Civil society has played its part in our democratic process, but Government and Opposition Parliamentarians have failed in their responsibilities. They have ignored the voice of the people and pushed their own ill-informed and racist agenda.
“Djiniyini Gondarra and Rosalie Kunoth Monks said in a statement this week that if the Bills pass “it will be a day of mourning for all Aboriginal peoples. This legislation will be the cause of great suffering in our hearts”. I share their pain as do so many other Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who have stood up for what is right. I say to everybody in the Northern Territory you are not alone we feel immense sorrow about this injustice and we won’t give up.
“We may have lost this battle, but we will continue to seek justice. Even if our domestic law and Parliamentary process fails to protect us Australia has obligations under International Law and is signatory to several human rights conventions. We must hold our Government accountable to those Conventions. We have been fighting for our rights for over 200 years and we will continue to fight for our rights for however long it takes,” Mr Mundine concluded.