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Lidia Thorpe says Labor’s Voice fixation has delayed Indigenous human rights report

  • Lidia Thorpe has described the Voice as a ‘destructive distraction’.
  • Thorpe links the delay of a report into Indigenous human rights to the Voice.
  • Australia initially rejected the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Independent senator Lidia Thorpe has labelled the Voice to Parliament “a destructive distraction” after the government delayed the release of a report on Indigenous human rights.
A Labor-majority inquiry has been looking into the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Australia, and whether the Uluru Statement From the Heart would help its implementation, since last year.
But the government now says the report’s release, initially scheduled for last week, will be delayed to give time for all states and territories to participate.

Thorpe, who sits on the inquiry, dismissed that explanation as a distraction and said the government had had “ample time” since the inquiry opened.

Committee chair Patrick Dodson says the delay is to ensure all states and territories can be heard. Source: AAP

She told SBS News that implementing UNDRIP was part of a “growing list of crucial and urgent reforms” that hadn’t been addressed while Labor pursued the Voice.

“The Voice is proving to be a destructive distraction from the government taking action right now to implement UNDRIP and bring Australia in line with the most basic human rights standards for First Peoples,” she said.

“Over the course of the inquiry, we have heard accounts of the disgraceful record in this country of violating the rights of First Peoples, and about the inadequate protections and accountability mechanisms.

“It is clear that Labor is using the Voice debate to cover up its continued and deliberate efforts to prevent the implementation of basic human rights protections for First Peoples.”

In a statement, committee chair Patrick Dodson confirmed the inquiry had been extended, but could not provide a date for its report.
“Submissions are also being sought from industry and private sector organisations, about how they might be adhering to and applying UNDRIP principles,” he said.

“The committee is also keen to learn about how public education and knowledge-sharing programs might improve adherence.”

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation warned the inquiry that the Commonwealth and states had “largely failed to honour or adhere to” UNDRIP, while the Australian Law Council said it had only been “implemented domestically in a piecemeal manner”.

Labor blocked debate on Thorpe’s private member’s bill, which would see UNDRIP folded into Australian domestic law, in August until after the inquiry has handed down its report.

Aboriginal dancers with painted bodies on either side of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his entourage and they walk outside.

Australians will vote on a Voice to Parliament at the end of the year. Source: AAP / Aaron Bunch

There is now no guarantee it will be released before Australians vote in the Voice referendum some time at the end of the year.

“The indefinite delay of this inquiry is a deliberate move to undermine my parliamentary efforts, and more importantly, to avoid showing the government’s failure to deliver First Peoples rights in this country,” Thorpe said.

In public hearings held between October and June, the inquiry heard from Commonwealth departments and the ACT Human Rights Commission. But representatives from the other state and territory governments did not appear.

What is UNDRIP?

UNDRIP was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, and is described by the Australian Human Rights Commission as “the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples”.
It aims to prohibit discrimination against Indigenous peoples around the globe, encourage their “full and effective” participation in matters that affect them, and maintain their right to “remain distinct” while pursuing their own visions of economic and social development.

It’s non-binding, but is categorised into four main principles:

  • Self-determination
  • Participation in decision-making
  • Respect for the protection of culture
  • Equality and non-discrimination

Australia was one of just four countries to reject the resolution during the final days of the Howard government, but announced its support under Kevin Rudd in 2009.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/lidia-thorpe-says-labors-voice-fixation-has-delayed-indigenous-human-rights-report/qkn6bvqsy Lidia Thorpe says Labor’s Voice fixation has delayed Indigenous human rights report

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