Canberra-Based Voice To Parliament A Threat To Tasmania’s Closing The Gap Success

Written by:
5 October 2023
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“Tasmania is leading the way when it comes to real action in addressing Indigenous disadvantage, and it is being achieved without a Canberra-based Voice to Parliament being inserted into our Constitution,” said John Storey, Director of the Legal Rights Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

New research released today by the IPA ranks Australia’s states and territories on their overall performance against 16 key outcomes in the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The analysis finds that:

  • Tasmania is performing better overall than all other states and territories across 16 priority Closing the Gap targets, off the back of strong results in employment, economic participation, health, housing, and criminal justice measures in particular.
  • Tasmania is outperforming the nation on Closing the Gap where indigenous children being born healthy and strong, and ensuring that Indigenous Tasmanians are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system.
  • Tasmania ranks in the top half of all states and territories in 11 of 16 Closing the Gap targets.

“Given the proposed Voice to Parliament will be based in Canberra, just like current bureaucratic structures that are failing to deliver better outcomes for Indigenous Australians, there is a significant risk that achievements in places like Tasmania will continue to be ignored,” said Mr Storey.

“For far too long, the political class in Canberra has only focused on the concerns of inner-city activists. A Canberra-based Voice to Parliament risks drowning out the ideas and achievements of grassroots Indigenous communities.”

The 33,000 Indigenous Australians living in Tasmania are experiencing better life outcomes compared to those in every other state and territory in terms of the socio-economic factors that state and national governments are focusing on.

“Given Tasmania is already achieving more success meeting the Closing the Gap targets reinforces why a constitutionally enshrined, Canberra-based Voice is not necessary to get better results and might actually make things worse by drowning out the ideas that have a track record of success,” said Mr Storey.

“Despite suggestions of the implementation of local and regional ‘Voices’, there are no specific details on how these may work or what they will look like. With hundreds of individual Indigenous communities throughout the nation there is every likelihood they will continue to be ignored by the political class and activists.”

“While many Australians believe more work needs to be done to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous communities, a Canberra-based Voice focused on an agenda of the political class and activists will put at-risk hard-won improvements in Indigenous outcomes,” said Mr Storey.

To download the IPA’s research click here.

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