Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


First Nations Voice to Parliament

The Hon. S.G. WADE (15:08): Supplementary: the honourable minister referred to Torres Strait Islanders within the regions. Considering that Torres Strait Islanders are likely to be much more dispersed across the state, has the government given consideration to designated representation for Torres Strait Islanders within the Voice?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:08): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a good question, and he is right that there are significant Torres Strait Islander communities right across South Australia. The Riverland has a significant Torres Strait Islander community. There is a significant population in metropolitan Adelaide and in many other regions throughout South Australia. It is something that has come up during consultations, the need for diversity of representation.

The one area of diversity that has been enshrined for protection in the draft bill is to ensure that there is an equal number of Aboriginal men and Aboriginal women who will be elected; as I said, three First Nations men and three First Nations women from each of the local areas, and five each from the metropolitan area.

During consultations I understand there were questions raised about how you would have representation, could there be reserved places for young people, for elders, for Aboriginal people living with a disability, from various diverse communities? I have myself had representations from members of the South Australian stolen generations community about whether it's appropriate that there be essentially reserved places for people from those sort of communities.

That is not envisaged in this bill. What is envisaged, though, is that each local First Nations Voice could create committees to be informed from different aspects in different areas. Whilst I understand and agree with the honourable member that there are various aspects of the First Nations community—including Torres Straight Islander people who are dispersed right around South Australia—all of those people have the opportunity to run in elections and certainly an opportunity to engage either through a committee structure or through local consultations with local or statewide Voices.