The Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia has been working towards becoming a registered political party for over a year, with Traditional Custodian Tracey Howie set to contest the next Federal Election in the seat of Robertson, but a late change in electoral laws has put registration on hold.
Until recently, 500 members were needed by a proposed party to be registered.
The Party met this criterion and submitted its registration documents.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) had assessed the application and advertised nationally for objections with the objection period set to expire on September 6.
On that day, the Party received a call from the AEC, advising the rules had been changed on September 2 so that new non-parliamentary parties must now have 1500 members.
The Party is accusing the major parties of banding together to get the changes through the Parliament quickly.
“This is just so typical of Liberal and Labor,” Howie said.
“They are always moving the goal posts so Indigenous people never know where they stand and are undermined as a result.”
Convenor of the proposed Party, Uncle Owen Whyman, has written to the major parties and asked them if they are afraid of the proposed Indigenous Party of Australia.
Whyman says it is extraordinary that the major parties did not even debate the issue, with the Bill not even going to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
“People should feel they can vote for a minor party if that Party represents their views,” he said.
“At a time when many are ill at ease with the major parties, it will strengthen the suspicion that the major parties care only for their own skins and not for democracy or the people of Australia.
“In our case it can be difficult to get Indigenous people to get on the electoral roll and join our Party for fear this will somehow come against them, become another stepping stone to having their children taken away or ending up with a fine they cannot pay.
“It’s been a huge community effort to get our application this far.
“The Party only accepts Indigenous people as candidates and as members of the Board, but our membership is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and we welcome new members.”
Anyone can join on the Party’s website.
“They are so much more powerful than us.
“Are they afraid of our policy on the Baaka, the Murray- Darling?
“Or is it that they are scared of our education policies?
“We are calling education bureaucrats to account in NSW after NESA (NSW Education and Standards Authority) closed our schools and tipped Koori kids onto the streets in Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Western Sydney and the Central Coast.”
Howie, a direct descendant of Bungaree, who circumnavigated Australia with Matthew Flinders in the first years of the 19th century, is well known on the Coast for her strong advocacy of Indigenous rights.
She said environment and education are the two big issues for the Indigenous Party.
“Additionally, regarding sacred sites, the exploitation of Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permits must stop; both the Labor and Liberal parties are guilty here.”
“Education is another vital matter that the State Liberal Government has also turned into a dog’s breakfast.
“We want the NSW Education and Standards Authority closed, full stop.
“In its place, we will seek a Federal Commission with the authority to oversee Indigenous education, particularly for school refusers, bypassing the State.”
Media release, Sep 7
Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia