Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has asked the Australian Federal Police to consider the veracity of an allegation that celebrated author and academic Bruce Pascoe has benefited financially from fraudulently claiming to be Aboriginal, The Weekend Australian reported on Saturday.
The allegation was levelled against Mr Pascoe in an email written by Worimi businesswoman Josephine Cashman that was received by Mr Dutton on December 11, the Weekend Australian reports.
Ms Cashman’s email to the minister requested an investigation of Mr Pascoe for “dishonesty offences”, said the report, and was subsequently referred to the AFP on December 24 for an assessment, which began on Friday.
Ms Cashman has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of Mr Pascoe’s claimed Indigenous ancestry on social media since November last year, adding her voice to those of several prominent conservative commentators, including NewsCorps Chris Kenny and Andrew Bolt.
Ms Cashman's public criticisms lead to eventually led to her appearance on Sky News' The Bolt Report later that month.
The Weekend Australian reports Ms Cashman’s letter to the Home Affairs Minister disputed past statements made by Mr Pascoe that he was Boon Wurrung and Yuin and said Mr Pascoe had benefited financially from these claims as an author and an academic.
Ms Cashman’s email also sought support from Mr Dutton and other principle Commonwealth offices including the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister for the development of a national identity register for Aboriginal people.
“I suggest a panel composed of traditional owners, on-the-ground elders, government experts and others to examine the most efficient manner to achieve identifying Aboriginal people” [sic] wrote Ms Cashman.
The Weekend Australian reports that spokesperson from the AFP confirmed that the matter was being assessed. The spokesperson declined to comment further.
Ms Cashman is one of 19 Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of Aboriginal affairs Minister Ken Wyatt’s Senior Advisory Group for a co-designed ‘Voice’ to government appointed on November 8.
In response to questions put to Mr Wyatt by NITV News on November 25 regarding the position of the Senior Advisory Group on Mr Pascoe’s identity, a spokesperson from the National Indigenous Australians Agency said Ms Cashman’s views were her own and that the Senior Advisory Group did not have a position on Mr Pascoe.