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Victorian Greens back 'watershed' Treaty Authority

Dechlan Brennan -

The Victorian Greens have enthusiastically supported the appointment of a Treaty Authority panel, labelling it a watershed moment.

The Authority - an effective independent umpire for Treaty negotiations - has been legislated, and its funding is guaranteed.

The appointment on Tuesday of five First Nations was welcomed as a significant step for Indigenous Australians, with First Peoples' Assembly co-chair Ngarra Murray saying the conversations will lead to better outcomes for "out people."

"Members of the Treaty Authority are respected figures of our communities who will have the responsibility and cultural authority to bring us together as we begin treaty negotiations," she said.

The state opposition questioned the salary of authority members, who are set to earn close to $400,000, but Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Natalie Hutchins, told reporters on Tuesday the panel were entitled to be paid for the work they do.

On Wednesday, the Greens, who hold four seats in each of Victoria's houses of parliament and have supported all legislation around Treaty negotiations in the state, said the Authority appointments moved the state one step closer to Treaty.

"The task of negotiating the statewide Treaty will be historic," said party leader Samantha Ratnam.

"For more than a year the truth-telling commission has told the painful but important truth of our past, and the impact Australia's racist, colonial history has had on First Nations people."

The Yoorrook truth-telling commission - one of the significant policies recommended by the Assembly during its first term - saw then Premier Daniel Andrews, as well as ministers front or make statements, with Police Commissioner Shane Patton apologising for the harm caused by Victorian Police towards Indigenous Victorians.

Ms Ratnam said the Yoorrook commission also told of "our present" and the harms that still remain from colonisation.

"We see them in the laws and policies that cause deaths in custody, children still being taken from families, and in the trauma and impoverishment of many First Nations people," she said.

"Now we must see a Treaty deliver peace, justice, rights and healing for the First peoples of this land."


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