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Protesters clash with pollies over handling of Aboriginal remains

Callan Morse -

Members and supporters of Tasmania's Aboriginal community have confronted politicians on the opening day of Parliament, protesting the treatment of recently-discovered Aboriginal remains.

The demonstration was sparked after Aboriginal remains were returned, unannounced, in brown paper bags after being examined by a Coroner to a Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) office earlier this month.

Led by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's campaign manager, Nala Mansell, protesters confronted politicians as they left a pre-Parliament mass at St. David's Cathedral on Tuesday, following them to Parliament.

Protesters held brown paper bags at Tuesday's demonstration. (Image: Nikki Davis-Jones/The Mercury)

They included Attorney-General, Guy Barnett who addressed one member of the crowd before making his way into Parliament, angering Ms Mansell.

"You ignore our people, you disrespect our ancestors. Come and address the crowd," TAC campaigner Nala Mansell said, via The Mercury.

"He's still hiding behind security, refuses to give us answers.

"Nothing has changed since they first invaded our country. He needs to come out, explain … hold the coroner accountable."

@natindigtimes Human remains identified as being that of an Aboriginal individual who lived over 1000 years ago, were delivered to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in four brown paper bags. Campaign Manager Nala Mansell is seeking to change the way the system treats the remains of her ancestors. #aboriginalaustralia #indigenousaustralia #tasmania #🖤ðŸ'›â¤ï¸ #indigenousaffairs #alwayswasalwayswillbe ♬ Mysterious and sad BGM(1120058) - S and N

Following the return of the remains, Ms Mansell said the TAC was "horrified", calling the treatment of the remains a "disregard and disrespect" of First Nations peoples.

On Tuesday, member of the crowd were heard chanting "HOLD THE CORONER ACCOUNTABLE", while brown paper bags with an image of Tasmanian Elder, Truganini were lined on the stairs to Parliament.

Ms Mansell also confronted Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Roger Jaensch during the demonstration.

"What have you done? What do you say to the coroner? What action have you taken?" she asked the Minister Jaensch over a speakerphone, via NITV.

Brown bags with an image of Tasmanian Elder Truganini lined on the steps of Parliament. (Image: Image: NITV)

Minister Jaensch said the way remains had been recently handled by the Coroner's office was "not OK".

"We want to fix this, we want to make it better," Minister Jaensch said.

"I will work with Minister Barnett and with parliament to find a better way."


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