Aboriginal timeline: Politics

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1996

  1. Paul Harriss (Independent) is elected to the Legislative Council in Tasmania, representing the electorate of Huon.

1997

  1. During the opening address of the Reconciliation Convention Premier Minister John Howard refers to the plight of Australia’s Aboriginal people as a mere ‘blemish’, dismissing centuries of dispossession and violence as insignificant. Indigenous delegates in the audience stand and turn their backs on the Prime Minister in protest. The PM snaps and screams at the audience in return.

    In facing the realities of the past, [...] we must not join those who would portray Australia's history since 1788 as little more than a disgraceful record of imperialism [...] such an approach will be repudiated by the overwhelming majority of Australians who are proud of what this country has achieved although inevitably acknowledging the blemishes in its past history.

    — Then-Prime Minister, John Howard

1998

  1. Federal election results in a second Aboriginal person elected to federal parliament - Senator Aden Ridgeway. He is to remain a Democrats Senator for New South Wales until 2005, the only Aboriginal person serving in the Australian parliament during that time.

2001

  1. Matthew Bonson (Darwin), Elliot McAdam (Tennant Creek) and Marion Scrymgour (Melville Island), are elected to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly representing the electorates of Millner, Barkly and Arafura respectively.

  2. Aden Ridgeway is the first Aboriginal person to be elected as a parliamentary leader when he holds the position of Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats from 2001 to 2002.

  3. Carol Martin (Australian Labor Party), becomes the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the parliament of an Australian state when she wins the seat of Kimberley in the Parliament of Western Australia.

  4. Jack Ah Kit, a Jawoyn man from Alice Springs, becomes the first Aboriginal government minister of the Northern Territory when the Australian Labor Party wins office. His portfolios include local government, housing and sport. He resigned in 2005 for health reasons.

2002

  1. Kathryn Hay (Australian Labor Party) is elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly, representing the electorate of Bass.

  2. Marion Scrymgour (Australian Labor Party) in the Northern Territory Assembly becomes the first Aboriginal female minister in any government in the history of Australia.

  3. Australia joins the International Criminal Court which means that genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are now offences under Australian law. Before that they were not.

    Believe it or not, [before 2002] genocide was not an offence under Australian criminal law.

    — Julian Burnside, Melbourne lawyer [1]

2003

  1. Linda Burney (Australian Labor Party), is the first Aboriginal person elected to the New South Wales Parliament. She represents the electorate of Canterbury.

2004

  1. The National Indigenous Council is appointed to be an advisory body to the Australian government, chaired by Dr Sue Gordon, a Western Australian Magistrate. It winds up in early 2008.

  2. The government starts using Shared Responsibility Agreements (SRAs), voluntary written agreements, which set out outcomes to be achieved and the agreed roles and responsibilities of governments and Aboriginal communities in relation to particular projects or activities.

2005

  1. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is dismantled by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Act 2005 and replaced by a Commonwealth government-appointed advisory board.

  2. Barbara McCarthy (Territory Labor) is elected to represent the electorate of Arnhem, and Alison Anderson (Territory Labor) is elected to represent the electorate of Macdonnell.

2006

  1. Ben Wyatt (Australian Labor Party) is elected in a by-election to the Western Australian parliament for the electorate of Victoria Park. He is re-elected in 2008.

2007

  1. Marion Scrymgour becomes the first Aboriginal person to lead a state or territory government when she becomes Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.

  2. The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act comes into effect, aiming to strengthen governance and management of Aboriginal corporations with consistent practices and standards.

  3. 143 member states adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States, Australia is one of four nations to vote against the declaration, while 11 nations abstain. After 20 years of negotiations, the declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples. It is the most comprehensive international instrument on indigenous peoples’ collective rights, including the rights to self-determination, traditional lands, territories and resources, education, culture, health and development.

2008

  1. Marion Scrymgour (Australian Labor Party), in the Northern Territory Assembly becomes the first Aboriginal female deputy chief minister.

References

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[17373] 'Senior politicians in Australia have committed crimes, says top lawyer', SMH 8/6/2018

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2020, Aboriginal timeline: Politics, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/politics?page=5>, retrieved 25 October 2020

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