• Worimi woman Josephine Cashman questions the identity of Bruce Pascoe on The Bolt Report (Twitter)Source: Twitter
The Minister for Indigenous Australians has removed businesswoman Josephine Cashman from the Senior Advisory group, following her public campaign to discredit author Bruce Pascoe.
Jodan Perry

28 Jan 2020 - 3:16 PM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2020 - 4:27 PM

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, has today decided that Josephine Cashman's position in the Group is "no longer tenable."

In a statement, Mr Wyatt said he wrote to Ms Cashman to advise her of his decision, following conversations with Co-Chairs Professor Marcia Langton and Professor Tom Calma.

He says Ms Cashman's actions are "not conducive to the constructive and collaborative approach required to progress" the co-design process.

Ms Cashman has been a vocal critic of author and historian Bruce Pascoe and his book 'Dark Emu'. Last month she wrote to the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, alleging that Mr Pascoe benefited financially by wrongly claiming he was Indigenous in order to claim funding set aside for Aboriginal identified positions.

Mr Dutton then forwarded the letter on to the Australian Federal Police to investigate.

On January 24 the AFP cleared Mr Pascoe of any 'Commonwealth offences' and stated that the matter was finalised.

Speaking on ABC Radio National on Monday, Mr Wyatt said he was "disappointed" at the way Ms Cashman has challenged author Bruce Pascoe’s identity in the public domain.

“[It] creates an opportunity for those who live with the notion that we take still the old practice of full bloods, half cast, quarter cast, quadroon, and they keep it alive by saying, oh, they can't be Aboriginal because they're fair skinned,” he said.

“So we will have Indigenous kids who don't fit the descriptors of what some people in this society see is the true Aboriginal. And yet they are true in every sense. And I know this is impacting on many people,”

“I had people come up to me yesterday [Sunday] saying they were concerned at Josephine's open process in attacking Bruce Pascoe because they said they're now having people say, well, you can't be Aboriginal. Your skin's as fair as Bruce Pascoe is. And that's an outcome I did not want to see.”

Columnist Andrew Bolt says Josephine Cashman 'passed on' letter claimed to be written by Yolngu Elder

Two days after publishing a letter claiming to be authored by Warramiri Elder Terry Yumbulul, Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has now updated his online blog to say the letter "was passed on to me by Josephine Cashman."

He also adds that "Terry Yumbulul now denies writing the letter", quoting NITV News' exclusive interview with the Warramiri Tribal Chief that was published on Monday.

“Josephine rang me about it and that was on the phone… and I did not say anything of the sort to write the letter on behalf of me,” said Mr Yumbulul. “There was never consent.” 

Mr Bolt says that he has correspondence between Ms Cashman and Mr Yumbulul, where Mr Yumbulul "suggests corrections to the draft of the article then sent to me."

He also states that Mr Yumbulul and his wife were sent nine drafts of the letter by Ms Cashman, which they replied to.

An exchange between Ms Cashman and Terry Yumbulul from January 24 is also published, which reads

The subject text for this email is "RE: Aboriginal people are proud of their hunter and gatherer heritage".

A further screenshot published on the blog today is of an email from Ms Cashman to Mr Bolt, authorising the publication of the letter. The email address of Mr Yulumbul's wife is visible in the CC column.

There is no response from Mr Yulumbul that gives consent to the final content of the letter, or for his name to be attached to it, despite Ms Cashman claiming the contrary on social media. In a tweet composed on Monday night, Ms Cashman said "Terry has work through several drafts of the letter. He gave written permission to publish to Andrew Bolt. He was copied in to the correspondence."

In a statement provided to NITV News on Monday, Mr Yumbulul strongly rejected the claim he was the author of the letter.

He said "In a telephone conversation with Ms Josephine Cashman, I broadly agreed with the notion that Yolngu people were, and still are, hunters and gatherers. That was the extent of our discussion."

He also said he has never made comment regarding author and historian Bruce Pascoe and his work, and comments "attributed to me criticising other Aboriginal leaders are also false."

NITV News has reached out to Andrew Bolt for comment.