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Tuylupa Tunapri provides draft Bill to Tasmanian government to progress Treaty negotiations

Callan Morse -

A group representing the views of Tasmanian Aborignal people has provided the state's government with a Draft Treaty Commission Bill in an attempt to progress Treaty negotiations.

The group, Tuylupa Tunapri, has provided the government with a bill ultimately aimed at Treaty completion by 2025.

Tuylupa Tunapri chair Rodney Gibbins said the appointment of a Truth-telling and Treaty Commission is the first step the Tasmanian Government should take to progress Treaty.

“We know that a Treaty and Truth-Telling Commission is the first step in the process,” he said.

“Nothing can be done without such a commission.”

Mr Gibbins said Tuylupa Tunapri is calling on the Tasmanian government to appoint both a Commissioner and assistant Commissioners when parliament resumes in 2023.

“Appointment of a full-time Commissioner and two assistant Commissioners in the first session of the Tasmanian parliament in March next year will get things moving. That is our immediate aim," he said.

“All political parties have stated their support for Treaty and Truth-Telling and our drafting of this Bill provides a focus for that support.”

Tuylupa Tunapri’s Draft Treaty Commission Bill includes a schedule for action as well as providing a document ready for public consultation.

“Our draft Bill sets out actions to be taken by a Commission and a timetable within which to do it,” Mr Gibbins said.

“We are suggesting the Commission have a draft treaty in hand for broad consultation rather than ask people what should be in a treaty.”

The draft bill’s topics include land and waters, Aboriginal culture, self-determination, empowerment and creating an Aboriginal financial base, with Tuylupa Tunapri also ready to discuss repatriations with the government.

Mr Gibbins said he is optimistic that if a commission was established next year, the finalisation of a Treaty by 2025 would be possible.

“A Commission established in March 2023 can complete its development of a consultation document or documents that are based on our topics and could report back to parliament by the end of 2024. That would enable a treaty to be finalised by 2025," he said.

In response to Tuylupa Tunapri’s proposed Draft Treaty Commission Bill, Tasmanian Indigenous Affairs Minister Roger Jaensch said his government was committed to Truth-telling and Treaty, however the bill would need to be considered by the Tasmanian Government’s recently appointed Aboriginal Advisory group.

“The Rockliff Liberal Government is committed to progressing Truth-telling and Treaty in true partnership with Tasmanian Aboriginal people,” Minister Jaensch said.

“Any proposal put forward to the government by Aboriginal people will be provided to the Aboriginal Advisory group for their consideration.”

The legitimacy of the group has previously been rejected by Mr Gibbins, who described the six-member body as “nothing more than a government prop, manipulated to undermine or bypass the Palawa people’s voice... (that) does not have the authority, respect or cultural license to speak on behalf of the Palawa people".

Mr Jaensch said the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, who facilitated the election of the 11 members of Tuylupa Tunapri, were invited to participate in nominating members for the government’s Aboriginal advisory body.

“The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre was invited to nominate members to take part in the Aboriginal advisory body during a number of meetings and conversations,” he said.

“The government was hopeful they would accept that invitation, and it is unfortunate they have decided not to participate at this stage.”

Mr Gibbins reaffirmed Tuylupa Tunapri’s desires to work alongside the government to progress Treaty negotiations.

“We want a partnership with the government, and this is our first contribution. We are available to sit down at any time with the government to discuss this draft Bill."

Although not included in the bill, Mr Gibbins said Tuylupa Tunapri also has views to share with the Tasmanian government on how Truth-telling should be managed in the future. 

“We did not include truth-telling in this draft Bill without first talking to government about how best to include the topic,” he said.

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