• Liberal Ken Wyatt at his electorate office in Forrestfield in his seat of Hasluck. (SBS News)Source: SBS News
The first Aboriginal man to be elected into the Lower House of Australia’s Parliament has told NITV he will work with other Indigenous politicians to push for serious change.
By
Myles Morgan

7 Jul 2016 - 2:11 PM  UPDATED 7 Jul 2016 - 2:11 PM

Liberal Ken Wyatt has retained his WA seat of Hasluck and will be joined in the House of Representatives by Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney, who won the seat of Barton for Labor.

It also looks likely that Yawuru man Pat Dodson and Yanyuwa woman Malarndirri McCarthy will secure Labor Senate spots.

“We’re beholden, firstly, in our commitment to our parties,” Ken Wyatt told NITV.

But he said he would also make use of bipartisan commitments to closing the gap.

“We have the unique opportunity to not only represent our constituents but also to influence some of the agenda around Indigenous affairs.”

Mr Wyatt, the Liberal Party’s Assistant Health Minister, said improving Indigenous education, reducing incarceration rates and lifting economic independence should be a priority for his Indigenous colleagues.

He said party allegiances “doesn’t prevent the four of us caucusing on issues that are important and looking at common approaches that we will take in addressing some of these challenges”.

Wyatt will challenge Pauline Hanson’s views

With Pauline Hanson looking set to revive her federal political career, Mr Wyatt told NITV she shouldn’t be dismissed as irrelevant.

“I won’t always agree with what Pauline says and I am likely to speak out and challenge her but I’ve got to respect the fact there are people within Australia who voted for Pauline,” he said.

Her One Nation party received more than 100,000 votes in Queensland in Saturday’s election.

She has previously caused controversy with her views on Aboriginal people.

“What we should never do is headbutt people we disagree with,” Mr Wyatt said, adding a caveat:

“Australia has to draw a line in the sand in respect to the vilification of any race of people or the denigration of them and the use of racial overtones in doing that.”