• Indigenous voters could hold the power to sway the vote in key electorates. (NITV)
Where do the major parties stand on issues affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community?
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News, The Point
15 May 2019 - 12:10 PM  UPDATED 15 May 2019 - 12:10 PM

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolment rates are up five per cent since the last election, and in several key seats, the Indigenous vote could prove the deciding factor. 

Both parties' commitment to closing the gap has been described as "totally inadequate". 

So what are the major parties offering First Nations people? 

Voice to Parliament

In 2015, a Referendum Council was jointly appointed by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to advise the best way towards a referendum to recognise First Australians in the Constitution.

After 18-months of consultation and a landmark convention at Uluru, the council called for a Voice to Parliament - a body in the Constitution that would give Indigenous people a say on legislation and policy that affects them.

The proposal was swiftly rejected by PM Turnbull in 2017, but that didn't stop the Coalition from allocating $7.3 million in its recent budget for the "co-design of options" for a Voice to Parliament - though it's unclear exactly what that would involve.

Labor, on the other hand, has pledged to enshrine a First Nations voice in the Constitution and set up a Makarrata commission for agreement-making and truth telling.

Health 

The LNP will spend $160 million on a national Indigenous health research fund, with a further $10 million for the Lowitja Institute.

They’ll also spend $42 million on mental health initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, on top of $5 million allocated in the budget for Indigenous youth suicide prevention. 

The Labor party has a $115 million plan to improve health outcomes for First Australians, including almost $30 million to curb Indigenous youth suicide, $33 million to address rheumatic heart disease and $13 million to stop preventable eye diseases.

Education

The Morrison government has committed $276.5 million for an Indigenous youth education package.

The ALP will inject $14 billion into public schools over the next decade, but it’s unclear how much of that funding will target First Nations students. 

Housing

Housing can have a huge influence on both health and education outcomes.

A national funding deal on remote housing expired last year – forcing states and territories into negotiations with the federal government.

The Morrison government has struck new deals with Western Australia and the Northern Territory, allocating $550 million to NT remote housing over five years. 

WA would receive a one-off $121 million payment under the Liberals.

The LNP will also give $105 million directly to local councils in Queensland, bypassing the state government after negotiations broke down. 

South Australia remains in funding limbo. 

Labor has announced a new $1.5 billion national funding deal, which would double the commitment to the NT - providing $1.1 billion over the next decade. 

The ALP's plan also includes $251 million for Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia in 2019-20. 

The first Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Affairs? 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Australia would have its first Aboriginal minister for Indigenous Affairs under a Labor government, with WA senator Pat Dodson to fill the role if the ALP is elected.

Scott Morrison says he'll decide who takes up the portfolio from outgoing Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion if and when the Coalition is re-elected.

MORE ON THIS:
How the major parties’ Indigenous health election commitments stack up
ANALYSIS: Weighing up Labor and the Coalition's commitments to addressing health issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Questions follow federal Labor's $1.1b promise on NT remote housing
A Shorten Labor Government would match the NT Labor Government's 10-year $1.1 billion commitment to housing jobs in remote Indigenous communities.

#ThePoint will be unpacking this year's Federal Election with special guests Linda Burney and Kevin Wyatt tonight 8.30pm on NITV (Ch.34)