Indigenous voice to parliament raises conversations at NTCA

Eric Barker, 20/03/2023

Senator Jacinta Price

AS AUSTRALIANS prepare to vote on a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice to parliament, the impact it might have on the cattle industry was a major source of conversation in Darwin last week.

Few parts of the country see the cattle industry and the Indigenous community work as closely as they do in the Northern Territory – with the NT Cattleman’s Association broaching the subject several times at its annual conference.

In opening the conference, NTCA president David Connolly said people were being ostracised from discussion about the voice through fear of being labelled racist. But he said it was important the industry was able to ask questions.

“We speak with experience on these matters, the Territory has borne the brunt of Indigenous policies championed by Canberra for years,” Mr Connolly said.

“As the Federal Government has stumbled their way around a land that is distant and different to their own, so often our input and advice has been ignored.”

We have done a terrific job of making lawyers richer, but their clients remain in difficulty

Mr Connolly said he was keen be part of the discussion and hoped it led to better outcomes for NT Indigenous community.

“My earnest and truthful hope, whatever happens with the referendum, is that this renewed commitment to Indigenous disadvantage emergent over past decade brings with it the change that is so desperately needed,” he said.

“If we are to continue down the road we have been on for so long without new ideas, without rights met equally, I fear the Territory will go backwards rather than grow.”

While he was keen to talk about the referendum, Mr Connolly said the NTCA did not have a formal “yes” or “no” position on the voice.

“I believe it is the NTCA’s role to ask questions of the government regarding to implementation of the voice so they can make a more informed position,” he said.

“Organisations do not have the right to speak on behalf of their people when it comes to protections that are afforded to all Australian citizens. We have the privilege of confidential voting in this country.”

Cattle industry to step up on Indigenous policy

While Mr Connolly was keen to hear more about the Federal Government’s proposal on the voice, he said the industry needed to a bigger role in improving the lives of Indigenous people.

“Government is not, and will never be, the solution to addressing Indigenous disadvantage in the Northern Territory,” he said.

“We have done a terrific job of making lawyers richer, but their clients remain in difficulty. (The cattle industry) must take a greater hand in improving the situation ourselves.”

Mr Connolly pointed the NTCA’s “real jobs” program, which trains and supports young Indigenous people in forging a career in the cattle industry. It is run in partnership with an Indigenous agency.

“Our members que’d up to jump on board and it is so well supported,” he said.

“More than 200 participants have been through the program and many are still working in the industry. Last year we lost our funding.

“We must take carriage of these programs ourselves; we will continue this program because we want it, our members want it and more importantly these kids want it – and they need it. We will not give up on these kids.”

Senator calls for more support

NT-based Liberal senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has been a loud opponent to the voice. With Indigenous and Irish heritage, she said there were better ways of addressing disadvantage.

“We need to take a more realistic approach when it comes to the children we see on the streets at night,” Ms Price said.

“We need to uphold their rights as children to live in homes that can look after them and uphold their basic human rights. These changes need to happen far quicker than what is currently taking place.

“There has not been a year in my life where I have not attended at least one funeral. Many of those funerals have been for family members with a dependence on alcohol.”

Ms Price said programs like the NTCA’s real jobs program were important to addressing Indigenous disadvantage.

“Those initiative need far more support than what you are currently getting”

“Relationships must be strengthened between pastoralists and traditional owners. There used to be wonderful relationships and a lot that has been broken down because of the influence of bureaucracies.


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  1. Pat, 24/03/2023

    Why can’t the Govt have a 2 year trial on the things they hope The Voice will change. Iron out problems before changing the Constitution. Millions of dollars a year are spent on Indigenous departments, but it seems a lot of that money is wasted & not going where it should. Also indigenous adults/parents need to step up & change their behaviour themselves. No one else can change another’s behaviour.

  2. Colin Wilkie, 22/03/2023

    My opinion is that Senator Price and Mundine know exactly what the problem is and leave it to the ones that it affects, Years Ago there was a bill passed in parliament that said that you couldn’t say anything or do anything like police trying to stop violence in Aboriginal communities and I think that is still in law today and until that is removed it will never change, If you want my opinion on the basic question Who do we owe the debt for past events? It is the full blooded down to half cast over that is claiming that you are black to get the benefits when you are really something else, Do you think the government would have the guts to put it to the people who should get the benefits, like cheap loans free legal s Their is so many people getting the benefits and government grants that should be going to fix the problem, Do we ever see a document to see where the money has been spent and made public?? Thank you for giving me this opportunity Kind Regards Colin

  3. Antonio Aceti, 22/03/2023

    Forget about the voice. A brand new organisation headed by Jacinta Price and Mundine where they will take the full control of the ongoing problems and get rid of the bureaucracy, would be the only solution and go a long way towards solving it once and for all. Billions of dollars have been spent for years and years and where did it all go ?

  4. Antonio Aceti, 22/03/2023

    Couldn’t agree more to what both the NTCA and Jacinta Price are saying. There is too much bureaucracy at City levels which interfere with this problem while damaging the Aboriginal people.

  5. Kelly Atkinson, 21/03/2023

    Hi I’m of indigenous aborignal heritage and Scottish. I live in a community Echuca on the border of Vic and NSW moama, along the Murray River. I have a meeting with the local MP on the 28th of March at 12pm and an elder from SA I have invited her to come along and speak on share our journey and plans for the future. I worked in the cattle industry from r a company Thomas Foods in Murray bridge SA in a production of beef and lamb. Our community Echuca is an ideal place for a business runned in partnership with a local indigenous agency. We don’t have many of our local indigenous people in employment and I have struggled to hold more than a few jobs and not had the hours because of differences within the workplace. I think it’s a great initiative and I would love to see this happen in our communities and around Australia in many indigenous communities. Well done Jacinta we need many more of our women in Parliament standing up for the rights of all.

    Kelly 👣👣

  6. Greg Bye, 21/03/2023

    Here here,well said, democracy for all.

  7. Desi Grainer, 21/03/2023

    Indigenous people maybe have a close affinity working in the cattle industry. Moving through country and taking notice of land while mustering is satisfying and is only one benefit I feel. Keeping healthy and making a wage is good while learning new skills is even better. Keep this relationship going I reckon.

  8. John Delaney, 21/03/2023

    Great to see NTCA’s concerns.
    YES vote will give them an opportunity to consult with Local Aboriginal Community Members and their chosen Leaders on how their Collective can improve the situation on all aspects, eg Training, Job Placement, Housing, Health, Education etc, etc.
    Whole of Community can then test the Value of the VOICE and Presentation through that Forum.
    If nothing has worked in the past, cut out the Middle Layers, eg Bureaucrats, Politicians, current and aspiring and Give All Our Communities a Direct VOICE to the Powers that be.
    John Delaney

  9. Jill, 21/03/2023

    I am glad to see the Cattlemen’s Association advocating discussion, particularly as you have a genuine interest in promoting Aboriginal involvement and employment in your wonderful industry.
    I wish you well and that your voice will be heard above the false chatter of those who both live far away and who have vested interests in increased bureaucracy.

    • Tony, 21/03/2023

      How many Indigenous members does the NTCA have? Maybe it’s an opportunity to hear from them. If they feel supported by the Association I’m sure they have a lot to contribute on the future of the Territory.

  10. Mal Blakeborough, 21/03/2023

    As a aged Victorian who has not worked in the Northern Territory but worked

    over most of the rest of Australia and have followed the debate why is it dividing some prominent aboriginal leaders is it because it does not suit or they just want there own way

  11., 21/03/2023

    Ironically the Real Jobs Program Jacinta mentions had its funding cut. Apparently funding is being ‘reassessed’ and the program will be up running again soon. Here’s hoping.

  12. Ralph Mogridge, 21/03/2023

    The CLP, Jacinta and Bess Price and associated bodieshas been in a position to create change in the NT for over 30 years, but have failed to do so!!!

    The NT and Alice Springs needs fresh ideas and vigour!!!

  13. Baden Pearse, 21/03/2023

    Good on you David Connolly! This referendum will bring out all the southern, inner city do-gooders AND the numerous racists and while they get themselves well and truly lathered up, it will fall to people like you, David, who speak so forthrightly, yet sensibly, that will keep this debate on track. The NTCA is in good hands. Other leaders should cast off the mantle of fear and speak openly and with moderation.

  14. Phil Broad, 21/03/2023

    The Voice is a bureaucrat trojan horse, the 3% of the Australian population are already represented by 11 democratically elected M P’ s and a plethora of committees and councils already, which of these tax payers funded organisations will be axed to make way for the ” voice ” or and how much more will this ” voice ” cost the tax payers ( no detail ). Under the Constitution all Australian citizens are affected by passed and potential legislation which 1st nations citizens are, the voice will give them the power of veto in any legislation that affects Australians. As the prime minister has stated, it will be a brave Government to go against the voices advice. Good on the beef industry for bringing their points to the surface.

  15. David Heath, 21/03/2023

    Very well said President DC. ““Organisations do not have the right to speak on behalf of their people when it comes to protections that are afforded to all Australian citizens.”
    If more organisations, especially sporting bodies stuck to their focus on what they do better, the less diversion we’d see. IMO.

  16. Eileen Pena, 21/03/2023

    NT relationships are key to most ongoing justice measures. Very complicated with complex cosiderations. Key must deal with huge earnings by corporations and squashed advantages for indigenous people who have always striven to live and trade on their own lands. They are clever, knowledgeable people with many spokespersons. First current step is to hear their concentrated Voice and try to understand from just how far back and through what history they are coming. Recognize the differencec with our own history and pocketbooks.

  17. John Keen, 21/03/2023

    I am a child of the stolen generation.
    I grew up in Sister Kates Home for Indigenous kids here in Perth.
    How ironic you should cast the cattle men of the N.T. alongside the call for a voice.
    Prior to the 67 referendum that’s exactly how we were counted.
    With the animals and flora and fauna

    • Hutton Ian J, 21/03/2023

      That is a long held myth regarding being counted as flora and fauna.

      Prior to the 1967 vote Aboriginal people weren’t counted- but in some instances estimated. At no stage are there references to flora/fauna.

      The other change was allowing for the constitution to change in regards to the government’s ability to make laws specifically for Aboriginal people.
      As prior to 1967 the government could make laws for any race except Aboriginal. (This was originally inserted to manage migration concerns of the time )

      This is the second question/change.
      “An Act to alter the Constitution so as to omit certain words relating to the People of the Aboriginal Race in any State and so that Aboriginals are to be counted in reckoning the Population” ?

    • Paul Franks, 21/03/2023
    • Helen Armstrong, 21/03/2023

      Well done, John Keene, it seems you got a good eduction at Sister Kate’s, and I imagine three feeds a day and a warm and safe bed to sleep in.

      If only kids on community had that.

  18. Helen, 21/03/2023

    Throwing more money at the sad plight of these kids is not the answer. Being told they are victims of white oppression is not the answer. Apologising for imagined past hurts is not the answer. All this does is bury them deeper in a trench of despair. Safe homes, good nutrition, a good education (including learning in English – preserving local dialects wont get them a job in the ANZ bank), a regular family – these are the foundations on which they can chose to be a part of a functioning society.

    The thing is, by far the majority of Aboriginal people have already done this. Why cant we figure out what worked for them and apply that learning to the people jailed in their remote communities by the industry that wants them to stay there so they can say – we need more money?

  19. James McNeilage, 21/03/2023

    I am not indigenous and cannot pretend to walk in the shoes of the first occupiers of this great land , historically or in contemporary times , but a nation so divided by elite, woke activism is not going to find a solution. Accountable pragmatism at grass roots level is the only chance indigenous Australians will ever have of bridging the gap for future generations. The fact that Senator Price is so hamstrung by this elite , woke brigade is indicative of the fact that these ” enablers ” are not interested in “The Voice ” as a solution but rather ” THEIR ” voice as the only solution.

  20. alexander kitto, 21/03/2023

    Any politician who wants to be involved in commenting on the voice tp parliament, needs to have worked as a taxi driver for four straight years in Darwin . This includes any politician who has strong opinions but resides in the southern cities of Australia. Lately is had been very evident that various southern politicians although members on the front bench of federal parliament have little idea of the real problem in Northern Australia or any idea on how to fix it.

  21. Warrick wall, 20/03/2023

    If the PM believes thst changing the constitution will help aboriginal people why doesn’t he use alice springs as a proof of concept or test case. 5000 aboriginal people 1700 families and $500 mil. How wiĺl a voice to parliament get any better attention than having the PM, the minister for aboriginal affairs, 3 senators, NT chief minister sndthe head of the NT police. This situation in Alice Springs shows up yhe absurdity of concept of The Voice. Its a pipe dream that should not even see the light of day. Nothing is going to change until the anorigines start helping themselves.
    Warrick Wall

    • Gordon Stammers, 21/03/2023

      You just proved the need for the Voice….. Aboriginal people have not been in charge of that money ….. white bureaucrats have

    • Robyn Curley, 21/03/2023

      Here here..well said
      Why arn’t the people who are in already in parliment, on committies, in charge of the
      the numerous programes in place to give aborigional people a safer, better, more equal life, for oportunities now and in the future, nothing ever seems to get achieved. Money is allocated by all governments, however nothing ever seems to improve their lives and oportunities.
      Top heavy with loud voices,large pay packets and lots of politics..
      Review of all the people who are supposed to improve aborigional peoples lifes, are clearly not doing their job.

  22. Peter Dunn, 20/03/2023

    David Connolly is absolutely correct. The industry must ask questions. Government is not the solution to addressing indigenous disadvantage. Lawyers are getting richer, but their clients remain in difficulty.
    All of that is tragically true, but at the same time credit is due for the “real jobs” program. Hopefully a review will restore the loss of funding.
    Senator Price however, is even closer to the detail. The Senator demonstrates laser accuracy when she says that relationships between pastoralists and traditional owners must be strengthened (at the exclusion of bureaucratic intervention).
    It must be told that the Voice is the precursor for a much bigger Uluru agenda involving truth telling, treaty, sovereignty and
    the barely mentioned reparation and co-governance.
    Heed David Connolly and ask questions.

  23. Monica Kumangai, 20/03/2023

    This “yes” & “no” vote for indigenous voice to parliment should be a referendum. We have a right since 1967.
    As an ex electoral officer under the Beattie government I remember very well how I had to island hop through the torres straits to explain if the constitution had to change would we the peoples stay with the monarchy or be an independent country? So I ask this is this what we are talking about now? We as first nations peoples should have our own political party. It is only fair if this is a “fair go ” country we live in?

    • Hutton Ian J, 21/03/2023

      The 1967 Referendum had nothing to do with ability to vote.
      The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 received assent on 21 May 1962.
      It granted all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the option to enrol and vote in federal elections.And it became compulsory in 1984.

    • Julie Harris, 21/03/2023

      Why not go one step further and have every nationality in this country have there own parliament. The only way this country will move forward is as a team. Throwing out wads of cash unchecked, giving one race a voice others don’t have will only deepen the division. My vote and hopes for the future are with Jacinta Price, an extraordinarily intelligent, well spoken and passionate advocate for first nation people.

  24. Karen Shepherd, 20/03/2023

    I would like to see manatory accounting of money and outcomes and ess government. Proven programs delivered on the ground and means testing essential. There are too many wealthy vultures stealing from the families that need it most. NO TO THE VOICE, because it doesn’t put Australia’s interests first. We are one.

  25. Bob Hunter, 20/03/2023

    No to the Voice. The government to form a new organisation headed by Jacinta Price assisted by Warren Mundine & give them the power & resources to set up a totally revamped educational / training system to include mature aged people down to pre schoolers. Lack of a purpose in life is number one problem in regional oz, its gotta change.

  26. Derek Newton, 20/03/2023

    Pathetic that Beaurocracy can only hear that which it wants to hear. There are none so deaf as those who do not want to hear. Jacinta Price could fix lots of listened to. Derek Newton.

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