Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:55): I rise to speak to the First Nations Voice Bill. I note, as has been indicated earlier in the proceedings, we are opposing this bill, but we do not do that lightly at all. I certainly do not believe that this is the answer. We currently have 191 registered bodies working with Aboriginal South Australians right now, so what makes me wonder is what is going on that the myriad complex situations that affront our Aboriginal community, as the rest of our community—why is that not working?
I firmly believe we need to have our focus at the coalface, in the communities wherever they are, whether it is the Far West Coast, whether it is up north in the lands, whether it is in the Riverland or Murraylands, whether it is in the South-East, I believe that is where the rubber hits the road and that is where we need to make the commitment. I certainly do not believe that this bill will make it better for these communities right across the state, whether they be, as I said, in our distant communities on the Far West Coast, up north, throughout the rest of the state, through the Murraylands and Riverland, and certainly the community here in the city and the community on North Terrace.
I do not think this bill will give the support that it needs, and I say this as someone who has lived in a community, played sport in a community with lots of Aboriginal people and against them, and they are very good sportspeople. I certainly think we need to be doing more on the ground to make their lives better with their complex issues that affect their lives, just as with the complex issues that affect the general community.
I want to outline a letter to the editor by Margaret Van Ruth about outback support from The Advertiser on Tuesday 28 February, and I quote:
I write regarding 'Our Outback Shame (The Advertiser, Monday). I agree the situation is a shame, but it is not my shame. I was first motivated to work with Aboriginal people in 1964 when training as a teacher. My husband and I arrived at a remote community in the Northern Territory in 1966. While I enjoyed my experiences with the Indigenous children I taught, and had a great respect for the parents and leaders, other issues led us to return to Adelaide, where we were later involved with two other Indigenous communities.It was heavy going, constantly made worse by officialdom. This seemed to be reactive to the policy of the 'quick fix'. Policies failed because they weren't underpinned by depth of understanding or commitment, and they lurched from left to right.With each new broom came a new policy.My heart breaks for ruined lives. People with broken hearts, stooped shoulders, and premature deaths.And the self-righteous are a dime a dozen. Posing and posturing helps no-one. There are a lot of posers and posturers around at the moment. They don't get their hands dirty or get kicks in the teeth.I certainly have no quick-fix answers. But the only thing that will help in the long term is sustained support for all those people working so hard to improve the lives of those who need a helping hand.
I certainly agree with those comments. I want to make another reference and this is in regard to the federal Voice debate that is happening concurrently. It is about a commentary by Indigenous leader Warren Mundine. The headline is 'Solution is school and jobs, not Voice'. This was published on 1 March in The Advertiser:
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has said the new documentary series, Cry from the Heart, underlines the fact that economic participation and not a Voice to Parliament is the key to solving Indigenous disadvantage.
'The immediate cause of the problems in Alice Springs is the federal and territory governments' removal of cashless welfare and alcohol bans in remote Northern Territory Indigenous communities,' Mr Mundine said.
'The underlying cause is families in crisis, in a vicious intergenerational cycle of substance abuse, violence and sexual abuse, family breakdown, anti-social and criminal behaviour and long-term welfare dependency.
We often hear that poverty and history cause these problems—rubbish.
Poverty doesn't make you helpless, addicted, anti-social or a criminal.
My parents raised 11 children in poverty and met all their parental responsibilities.
I slept peacefully every night in a single bed with three brothers. But I was never afraid to go home.
The solution is economic participation—starting with adults in work and kids in school.
Case-managed intervention is required to achieve these objectives for troubled families, but jobs and education should be the single driving objectives.'
That is the end of the quote, but I will continue the article:
Mr Mundine also accused the Albanese government of 'winding back' 20 years of economic and social policies designed to empower Aboriginal Australians in favour of 'an ideologically driven agenda, centred on a grievance mindset, identity politics, increased bureaucratic control and centralised, government dependency'.
'The centrepiece of all this is the Voice. The government seemingly can't explain what the Voice is. But I know. It's the bureaucracy to end all bureaucracies and an enshrined talkfest in Canberra,' Mr Mundine said.
I want to make some comments in line with this debate around the many thousands of Aboriginal service men and women who have served and not just as the member for Hammond but as the shadow minister for veterans affairs. With all the inequality that has happened over time, I truly salute their service.
It was moving several years ago to be involved in the return of the remains of Private Miller Mack from the West Terrace Cemetery after 98 years of laying in what I believe was an unmarked grave to come home to Raukkan. I will read this report from the local newspaper of the day. It is titled 'Private Miller Mack returns home after 98 years' and was published in the Murray Valley Standard on 27 March 2017:
For a few moments, it was 1919 again at Raukkan.
The years rolled back and the body of a young serviceman, not long back from the western front, struck down by a disease he caught fighting for a country which did not count him as a citizen, was returned to Ngarrindjeri country, the land of his ancestors.
The bugler blew the Last Post and rifles cracked as Private Miller Mack's coffin was lowered into the earth.
He had originally been buried in an unmarked grave in Adelaide, an injustice his great nephew, Francis Lovegrove, spent years working to right.
On Friday, Mr Lovegrove stood before Private Mack's flag-draped coffin as it lay in the Raukkan church.
'Welcome home to your country,' he said.
Thank you for making us proud.
Now may your spirit rest in peace.'
Amazing Grace and the Slim Dusty song We've Done Us Proud were played to hundreds of members of the Ngarrindjeri nation and veterans' fraternity in the church and outside.
After a military procession, the coffin was placed in the ground between the graves of two of Private Mack's brothers in arms: Walter Gollan and Gordon Rigney.
David Prior, a chaplain with the 7th Royal Australian Regiment, said the gathering was about more than Miller Mack's body being moved from one place to another.
'It's about being heard, his story being told, being remembered, being honoured,' he said.
'He's never really been forgotten by you.
This is just a time for the rest of us to catch up, and do him honour in a way we haven't before.'
Miller Mack served with Australian Army at the Battle of Messines, in Belgium, where enormous mines were detonated beneath the German trenches—the subject of the film Beneath Hill 60.
I certainly was privileged to visit this area at the end of 2010. I certainly saw Hill 60 and the other mine sites, noting that, all these years on, there is a French barn there that still has at least 10 tonnes of explosives sitting under it, although they do believe it will not go off now because it has been saturated. The article continues:
He was affected by phosgene gas and evacuated to England in 1918, suffering pneumonia; it eventually led to the tuberculosis which claimed his life the next year.
Ninety-eight years later, mourners dropped poppies into his grave.
I certainly do, as I said before, salute Miller Mack's service. It was a very moving ceremony, done with the appropriate ceremony, and I was really privileged to be there on that day.
I want to talk about another Indigenous Australian, Peter Craigie, the 9th Light Horse, 32nd Infantry Battalion. Peter Craigie was born in 1894 to James Craigie, who was a station manager, and Bunny Roxborough, an Aboriginal woman of the Wankamadla/Wankajutuni tribe. One of eight children, he was born at Roxborough Downs Station, near Boulia in North Queensland. In December 1915, Craigie rode his horse more than 1,000 kilometres from Birdsville to Adelaide to volunteer for the first AIF.
Initially allotted to the 15th Reinforcements for the 9th Light Horse Regiment, Craigie trained at the newly designated Mitcham camp, south-east of Adelaide. He married Daisy Cusack just six days before he embarked on board the HMAT Anchises in March 1916, bound for Egypt.
Peter Craigie's grandfather, John Craigie, is my great-great-grandfather on another line. So the history and the connected history to my family is intriguing. I note the Craigie native title claim—obviously a Scottish family that came out here—and, as I said, John Craigie is my great-great-grandfather. I have this magnificent photo of my father and other family members of the Pederick and Roberts families with members of the Craigie family at a grave in Kingston on Murray, which is shared between the two lines of the family. I guess I just gave that as a little bit of a reasonably close family perspective of our own family's connection.
But I really do think, as has been expressed by others (and I have read some of those contributions that have been put in the papers recently) that we do need to help and assist and work with all of our community and make sure we get the right results. I certainly believe we need to do that by delivering support where it is needed most—in the community—and make it work and make it better for all of South Australia.