Australia

AFP finds 'no Commonwealth offence' following allegations against Bruce Pascoe

Bruce Pascoe and his daughter, Marnie at the National Dreamtime Awards (NITV). Source: NITV

The Australian Federal Police says it has not found any allegedly fraudulent activity against the Commonwealth by author and historian Bruce Pascoe.

The Australian Federal Police has confirmed it found "no Commonwealth offence" in the material it was provided to support allegations author Bruce Pascoe had financially benefitted by falsely claiming to be Indigenous.

The allegations were made by Indigenous businesswoman Josephine Cashman, a member of the voice-to-government advisory group appointed by the federal government.

The Worimi woman was reported to have written to the office of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in December last year, asking for Pascoe to be investigated for "dishonesty offences”.

Mr Dutton’s office referred her allegation to the AFP.

On Friday morning, the AFP confirmed it closed the investigation, saying Pascoe’s Aboriginality “was not relevant in determining whether a Commonwealth offence had been committed, [and] as such there was no need to undertake these inquiries”.

“On 24 December 2019 the AFP was referred correspondence in relation to alleged fraudulent activity against the Commonwealth by Professor Bruce Pascoe,” an AFP spokesperson told SBS News. 

“No Commonwealth offence has been identified."

“The AFP has now finalised this matter.”

Bruce Pascoe at the Dreamtime Awards in 2018.
Bruce Pascoe at the Dreamtime Awards in 2018.
NITV

Pascoe is the author of Dark Emu, a 2014 book detailing evidence that Indigenous Australians farmed the land prior to colonisation.

It won the New South Wales Premier's Book of the Year in 2016.

Dark Emu's publisher, Magabala Books, lists Pascoe as of Bunurong and Yuin descent.

Another member of the voice-to-government advisory group, Professor Marcia Langton, told NITV last week the questioning of Pascoe’s heritage was "unconscionable".

Ms Cashman also used her letter to urge Mr Dutton to assist her in developing a "national strategy for establishing a register for Aboriginal people".

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt rejected the idea, saying the government should not play a role in determining a person's Indigenous identity.

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