Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion welcomed the passage of legislation in the House of Representations establishing the new position of Indigenous Commissioner at the Productivity Commission.
“The creation of an Indigenous Commissioner position at the Productivity Commission reflects our commitment to strengthen research and evaluation of Indigenous Affairs policies and programs,” said Minister Scullion.
With the Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No. 5) Bill today passing the House of Representatives, the Bill will now progress to the Senate.
“This important new role will help to build an evidence base to inform funding decisions and deliver better outcomes for First Australians.
The appointment of a new Indigenous Commissioner relies on amendments to the Productivity Commission Act 1998. This legislation uses the existing standard legislative definition of an Indigenous person, which has been used in legislation by all Commonwealth Governments since 1975.
“Reports that the Government is changing the definition of an Indigenous person are entirely inaccurate – nothing has changed.
The definition of an Indigenous person in the new legislation is wholly consistent with the standard Commonwealth legislative definition used under both Liberal and Labor governments since the 1970’s.
“Consideration of how to define Indigenous status in legislation is a significant matter and well above politics.
If there is interest in changing the standard legislative definition, a parliamentary amendment to the Treasury Bill is not the appropriate process and instead it should be considered as part of a separate dedicated process which includes consultations with Indigenous peoples, legal experts and others to ensure there are no unforeseen or unintended consequences.
“It would be nothing less than remarkable and disgraceful politicking by Labor to push ahead with changes to the long standing legislative definition of an Indigenous person – a definition that is contained in landmark legislation including the Native Title Act 1993 and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976.
“The Government shouldn’t have to negotiate with the cross bench to retain the standard accepted definition of an Indigenous person and calls on Labor to immediately rule out doing a dirty deal with One Nation to change the legislative definition of an Indigenous person.
“I look forward to the appointment of Australia’s first Indigenous Commissioner at the Productivity Commission – something that only the Coalition Government had the vision to deliver.”
This position will enable the Productivity Commission to implement a whole of government evaluation strategy of policies and programmes that impact on Indigenous Australians. This will be reported against by all Commonwealth agencies.