Australian Foreign Minister keen on indigenous voice in Parliament

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong says "discussions are underway" to ending ill-treatment for 501s.

An indigenous perspective on foreign policy was on the table today for Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong and Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Indigenous Australians have been calling for a voice to parliament since 2017, and a pre-election promise by the Australian Labour Party was to implement The Uluru Statement From The Heart, which enables this.

Broadly, it calls for constitutional change based on justice and self-determination for Australia’s indigenous peoples.

It calls for a First Nations voice to parliament enshrined in the constitution, and a Makarrata commission to oversee a process of agreement-making and truth-telling about Australia’s history.

Minister Wong says they’re committed to the Statement.

“One of the areas that I'm most grateful that we did engage on was having an indigenous perspective on foreign policy. The hope that we could be a part of a government that could work with our first nations people to implement the Uluru Statement.”

Australian Detention Centres; "inhumane"

Another pressing issue is the violence and brutality experienced by New Zealanders held in Australian detention centres.

When asked if her government would end the alleged ill-treatment of detainees, Minister Wong replied that “discussions are underway”.

But Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says the centres are inhumane and must be shut down.

“There must be a more inclusive and welcoming approach to immigration and people seeking asylum," she said.

Diplomatic conversations for Minister Mahuta will continue in Rwanda this week to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.