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Response to Budget

In response to the release of the 2023/24 budget, Senator Lidia Thorpe welcomes some increases to welfare payments but is shocked at the failure of the budget to address the challenges faced by First Nations communities. 


Quotes attributable to Djab Wurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman and Independent Senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe:

“Today the Treasurer proudly announced a budget that does little to meet the needs of those at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis. It does even less to meet the needs of First Nations people who continue to face discrimination, underfunding and desperate living conditions.” 

“Well done Treasurer. You’ve delivered a budget that is in surplus and you’ve done it while giving tax cuts to the rich. The slow clap you hear is from the millions of Australians who have been told the battles they face to put food on the table and a roof over their heads is their burden to bear. The cries of despair you hear are from the hundreds of thousands of First Nations people who now know that their hardships will increase, their incarceration will increase and their suffering will increase. But don’t worry, we’re gonna have a Voice, a tired, desperate and beaten Voice of the colonised.” 

“This government has refused to meet with me, a Senator, a former public housing resident, a survivor of domestic violence, a First Nations leader, but they’re happy to be guided by the populist media. I am pleased to see significant investment into Central Australian communities and I’ll be looking closely at how this money is actually spent. But it leaves me wondering how they will explain the absolute lack of funding to other First Nations communities around the nation.”

“The budget includes no new funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, who last month desperately requested $250 million to maintain their services and are now left to decide which critical services they will cut. Their voice was ignored.”

“There is nothing in this budget that goes towards reducing deaths in custody. There have been over 540 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission, yet the government does nothing.”

“There is nothing in this budget for First Nations families impacted by Youpla/ACBF. No permanent resolution has been provided to those impacted, and so hundreds of First Nations families and individuals, who continue to experience funeral poverty and financial distress as a result of this exploitative scheme, have been told they don’t matter.”

“But there’s plenty of cash for the Voice to Parliament. $364.6 million over three years for a toothless advisory body that is already dividing our communities. Even the government recognises the impact the referendum is having on us and budgeted $10 million for additional mental health supports for First Nations people during the referendum period.”

 “The government promised to progress Truth and Treaty as well as the Voice. Last budget, we saw a funding commitment to a Makarrata Commission to progress Truth and Treaty, including funding for this financial year, though we are yet to see where this has gone. In this budget there is no funding for Truth and Treaty. None.”

‘I welcome the additional funding to address the disrepair in residential housing in the Wreck Bay community. I have repeatedly advocated to the government to commit to this measure and am very happy to see it in today’s budget.”

“I welcome the funding provision for the development of a First Nations water ownership arrangement. We are not separate from water and have lived off and sustained our waters for thousands of years. Our ancient knowledge should be the guiding principle in the development of this arrangement.”

“The word justice receives only six mentions in this budget and indeed it is a budget poor in delivering justice. This budget fails in delivering First Nations justice, social justice, environmental justice, what you call criminal justice, justice for refugees and even housing justice.”

“I am left saddened by the utter failure of this budget to address the desperate situation faced by First Nations people in this country. But I continue to be inspired and driven by the determination of my community and Elders to fight for the survival and dignity of our people.”

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