Indigenous political party to launch in 2011

By AAP with AG Staff 2 December 2010
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Australia’s first political party to represent Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders will campaign on a variety of issues.

AUSTRALIA’S FIRST INDIGENOUS POLITICAL party will be officially registered early next year and could one day form government, the man behind it says.

Aboriginal rights campaigner Maurie Ryan has applied to have the First Nations Political Party registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The former Labor party member says the new party will eventually field candidates in Federal, State and Territory elections and “it will grow”.

“Political parties are created to govern and I hope one day this political party will be in power,” he told reporters on Thursday.

First Nations

“There are first nations political parties all around the world, but in Australia there hasn’t been any representation of indigenous people except the times of Neville Bonner, Aden Ridgeway and now Ken Wyatt.”

Maurie says that fact is an indictment on mainstream politics. He ran as an independent in the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari at the 2007 and 2010 Federal elections.

The seat is named after his grandfather, early land rights activist Vincent Lingiari, and presently held by Labor minister Warren Snowdon. “Warren’s been there 20 years and done nothing,” Maurie says. “I’ll be contesting against him next time and I’ll have a political party behind me.”

Wider issues

He says First Nations is needed because both major parties proved they were racist by suspending the Racial Discrimination Act in order to roll out the NT intervention.

The new party would be open to everyone and campaign on wider issues than simply indigenous rights. To date First Nations had more than 2000 members, Maurie says.

The AEC advertised the party’s application this week. Any objections have to be lodged by January 4. It is hoped the party will then be officially registered in the following weeks.

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