Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 20, 2024


First Nations Voice Elections

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:04): I seek leave to make a very brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on Voice nominations.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Premier was on radio yesterday, and as part of the news summaries it was reported—I am not sure if they were his words or not—that there were 'plenty of candidates running' for the Voice elections. My questions for the minister are:

1. Can he provide details to the chamber: of the 11 positions in region 1, Central, how many eligible nominations have been received?

2. Similarly, for region 2, Far North, of those seven positions how many eligible nominations have been received?

3. For region 3, Flinders and Upper North, of those seven how many have been received?

4. Region 4, Riverland and South-East, of the seven how many nominations have been received?

5. For region 5, West and West Coast, of those seven positions how many nominations have been received?

6. For region 6, Yorke and Mid North, of those seven positions how many nominations have been received?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:05): I thank the honourable member very much for her question and for her very genuine interest in this area. I note the interest she has shown and the way she—both as a minister and in opposition—involves herself with Aboriginal people and communities is very much appreciated.

In short, I can't provide her with an answer on the eligible nominations received, but that will be made public on 26 February. Nominations closed on Monday of last week—5pm Monday just over a week ago. There are still checks for exactly that eligibility for people who have nominated to make sure they are eligible and they are in the right region and their nomination is in order. February 26 is the date the Electoral Commissioner will release the details of all eligible nominations.

What I can inform the honourable member is that I have had an update from the Electoral Commissioner once nominations closed to let me know that nominations were very strong and healthy and that there were at least enough nominations for both the male and female positions that are required in every single area of the six regions. From memory, I think it was more than double the number of nominations for all the positions across South Australia that were made for the positions that are to be filled.

The first step is the nominations, and then there is the election. With that first step, it seems a very pleasing result that there was strong interest for those positions. That's reflected when I have been, over the last few weeks, in different areas around South Australia, from the very Far West Coast to the Riverland, where I think all or, if not, almost all of the Aboriginal community organisations that I visited have had displays of the First Nations Voice in their offices, encouraging people to get involved and to nominate. So it is pleasing to see how much this is being taken up by the Aboriginal community in South Australia.

Having said that, I might note that, almost as a word of caution, I am not sure what we will see as the turnout for the elections. It is a voluntary voting election. We know in voluntary voting elections, even where huge amounts are spent on awareness and where they have been around for a very long time, such as local council elections, there is often very low turnout for those. For ATSIC elections, which were conducted four times over the 1990s and which became very well known, I think turnout varied between, at the first ATSIC election in 1990, about 2,000 up to 2,600 or so for the fourth election in the late 1990s.

So while the nominations have been a very positive start, when you do something for the first time like these elections, I suspect there will be, starting out, as people get used to it, a smaller turnout that will grow over time.