Treaty - Post Election Commentary

January 28, 2019

 by Charles Pakana, Treaty Engagement Correspondent 

With a landslide victory for the Victorian ALP in the 2018 State Election, the re-elected Andrews State Government has little standing in its way – politically, at least – as it moves toward treaty negotiations with Victorian Aboriginal groups.

In the Upper House, the ALP has fallen short of a clear majority, but not by much. Should new Bills or an amendment to the Advancing the Treaty with Aboriginal Victorians Act be put forward, it is there that the ALP could face challenges. Even then, it would take the combined might of most non-ALP members to vote against it.

Natalie Hutchins resigns from the front bench

One of the surprises, though, is the announcement by Natalie Hutchins, MP, that she would be retiring from the front bench, leaving open the way for a new figure to take on the role of Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

Recognised by many as a key driving force behind the move towards treaty, only time will tell if the impetus she established will be maintained under a new minister.

Another result that take many by surprise was the loss by the Victorian Greens of the seat of Northcote, which it won in November 2017 in a by-election triggered by the death of Labor Party MP Fiona Richardson.

With an impressive 11.5% swing, Greens candidate Lidia Thorpe took the seat and became the first female MP in the Victorian Parliament. She also took on the role of Aboriginal Justice spokesperson for the Greens in Parliament.

Despite losing her seat and Greens spokesperson standing, Ms. Thorpe remains committed to speaking out on the 38 Nations issue and other issues that relate to Treaty.

The Coalition’s opposition

Prior to the election, Nationals MP Tim Bull, the Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, stated that the Coalition would go into the election without wavering on its stand of treaty being left to Federal rather than State government.

Early in the new year, I will be speaking to the (new?) Shadow Minister regarding the Opposition’s stand on the Treaty issue.