Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Labor’s slur on the people of Nguiu

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today slammed Federal Labor Senator, Trish Crossin over her suggestion in Senate Estimates today that Tiwi Islander’s had been bribed to accept an historic land agreement.

"Senator Crossin today inferred that a sitting fee paid to Traditional Owners to attend meetings about the land agreement was a bribe," Mr Brough said.

"This is a continuation of Senator Crossin’s criticism of the agreement.

"I can only hope that Senator Crossin was listening closely when the Chief Executive Officers of the Tiwi Land Council, John Hicks, when he categorically denied that people were bribed.

"This was a disgraceful line of questioning which implies that Traditional Owners of Nguiu are not capable of determining their own future. It questions the intelligence and character of the Traditional Owners of Nguiu.

"What Senator Crossin’s tirade today shows is that she, like the Labor Party, aren’t able to grasp what Indigenous people, like the Traditional Owners of Nguiu, who have determined that they want to take positive action to build a future for themselves.

"I would have thought, given that we have just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the referendum, that Senator Crossin may have evolved a bit more.

"Unfortunately it seems she remains stuck in the past – wanting to keep Indigenous people locked into a life of limited opportunities.

"The Traditional Owners of Nguiu have agreed to enter into a lease arrangement which will allow people, both TO’s and historical residents, to buy their own homes, own and run their own businesses and work towards economic independence.

"The deal will also help attract business and investment to the region, in turn creating jobs and help build a sustainable future.

"If Senator Crossin doesn’t want to pay any respect to the wishes of the Traditional Owners, she should keep out of their way from determining their own future."