Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 06, 2024


First Nations Voice To Parliament

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (15:37): My questions are to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs regarding the State Voice:

1. How much has the Malinauskas government spent so far on promoting, advertising and encouraging Aboriginal people to vote or nominate to stand in the upcoming State Voice election?

2. Does the minister believe that those funds could be better utilised to invest directly in Aboriginal communities across South Australia?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:37): I thank the honourable member for her question. I don't have a breakdown, and I don't expect I will be able to get a breakdown to an exact point in time—to today—but as I have mentioned a number of times in this chamber both in responses to questions, I think, in question time but certainly in relation to the committee stage of the bill that passed early last year through parliament, the expected cost of operation of the Voice is about $1.5 million a year. Almost half of that is on the administrative support required, and the other half is on being able to arrange meetings, sitting fees and payments for members of the Voice.

Do I think it would be better spent directly on providing services to Aboriginal people? Well, I tell you what that would do. That would be doing more of the same that we have done for decades and decades and decades under governments of both persuasions. Do I think that hearing directly from Aboriginal people, those whose lives are affected by our decisions, is a wise investment? Absolutely, I do. Absolutely, I do, and one thing that I am absolutely sure of is whatever money we spend administratively on the Voice and on having elections will be returned many times over in terms of the more effective and efficient services that governments provide to Aboriginal people and communities.