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Treaties key to progress - Lidia Thorpe responds to Closing The Gap report

Giovanni Torre -

Senator Lidia Thorpe says the grim latest report from the Productivity Commission on Closing The Gap is "not new or surprising" for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung senator said "'Closing the gap' have long been dirty words in our communities – use those words and you'll get an eye roll... because this approach has been a failure from the beginning".

"Governments will continue to fail on justice for our communities until First Peoples have self-determination," she said on Wednesday.

"It has always been obvious that governments don't know what's best for First Peoples. So I echo the calls of the Commissioner to accept this reality now, and fundamentally change their approach – they need to support Truth Telling and Treaty.

"First Peoples should have the power to decide what is best for our families and children, on our own Country. We have the solutions, and that is why self-determination through Treaty is the only viable pathway forward."

The independent senator for Victoria said Treaties from the grassroots up will give each language group the ability to negotiate and make an agreement that works for them.

"That is how this country can move forward together, find unity, and heal. Treaties are our pathway to peace," she said.

"They will help us come together as a country, recognise the Sovereignty of First Peoples, and together begin to fix the ongoing disadvantage and injustice that First Peoples continue to face.

"So it's disappointing to see Minister Burney and the Prime Minister dodging questions in recent days about their commitment to Treaty and Truth."

Senator Thorpe said the federal government had promised First Peoples it would implement the Uluru Statement in full.

"Now it looks like another broken promise from Labor," she said.

"This government needs to come clean with First Peoples and everyone in this country, and begin telling the truth, instead of giving people more false hope."

Labor promised $27 million for a Makarrata commission to oversee Truth and Treaty processes during the 2022 election campaign. Later that year, $5.8 million was allocated to begin setting up the commission in the October budget.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: "What we're committed to is what we said during the referendum."

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