Peter Garrett, former Midnight Oil frontman and Labor politician, is making politically charged music again - including about Indigenous disadvantage.
“I have been incredibly fortunate to have lived a life where I have interacted with Aboriginal and Islander people. I’ve got to know them, I’ve worked with them as a politician, their issues were very important to me,” he tells NITV News.
"Now as a musician [again], I’m finding that filtering back through the songs almost in a subconscious or completely spontaneous way.”
One such song “It still matters”, which features in his album A Version of Now, released in July, details the country’s sometimes strenuous journey towards reconciliation between Indigenous and other Australians, a national initiative towards creating equal opportunity – such as in health, education and justice.
Mr Garrett grew to national acclaim as lead singer of rock band Midnight Oil (1976-2002), known for its political commentary. Two years later he was elected a member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Kingsford Smith, NSW, and in 2007 he was appointed Australian Environment, Heritage and the Arts Minister during the Rudd Government, a post he held until 2013.
Indigenous issues inspired many of Midnight Oil's early songs that Mr Garrett sung. In his later years Garrett helped to pen the legendary Australian track "Treaty", calling for a treaty with the Australian government, by Yothu Yindi with Manduwuy Yunupingu and Paul Kelly among others in the early 1990s.
“It’s an accidental record for me but it’s one I’ve totally loved doing,” he says. “Music is one of the things that fuels us up as humans.”
‘We need more Indigenous politicians’
Mr Garrett says Australian governments need more Indigenous representation.
"Their contribution will help parliament get a better understanding about Indigenous issues, a better understanding of that perspective,” he says.
“Crucially, at least for me, it will elevate their issues right to the top of the agenda which is where they need to be.”
He says a cross party bipartisan collaboration could assist in giving Indigenous people greater certainty from governments into the future.
Peter Garrett and his studio band, comprised of former Midnight Oil members Martin Rossi, Pete Luscombe from SBS’s RockKwiz and Mark Wilson from Jet, along from Abbey May and Rosa Morgan, will begin touring his album nationally in Perth on July 21.
The tour includes the Darwin Festival on August 7 where he'll perform with Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
For details see petergarrett.com.au.