#963 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 21 Sep 2014.
As debate on whether and how to recognise Indigenous Australians in the federal constitution gathers pace, Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie has weighed in with a proposal for up to nine federal parliamentary seats to be set aside for Indigenous leaders to reflect the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the community.
Senator Lambie said Indigenous people had told her they needed “voices in Parliament.”
It’s not the first time this idea has been floated in Australia. I don’t know about you, but I oppose it. Affirmative action has its place in the community, to address gross injustice such as entrenched gender discrimination with respect to employment, but in my view it is undeniably racist to demand that parliamentary seats be reserved for members of any particular ethnic group. And it draws attention away from other arguably more important Indigenous issues, both practical and symbolic.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.