By gutting the NT Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) office the Turnbull Government is cutting jobs in the Northern Territory and effectively silencing Indigenous Australians.
The NT AEC office, responsible from 1,349,129 sq kilometres, will go from 15 people down to just three – ensuring many Territorians will not be enrolled to vote at the next election.
These job cuts include members of the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP). It is a cowardly political maneuver done to disempower the voice of the First Australians and all Territorians.
I wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to reverse his decision. Yesterday I received an insipid and dishonest response from the Special Minister of State, Scott Ryan1, claiming that:
‘encouraging Indigenous Australians to enrol and vote is a government priority’
‘There will be no reduction in services’
What a joke. The Territory has by far and away the worst rates of enrolment in the nation – with 17.3% of Territorians missing from the roll. Further, the AEC cannot possibly work to improve enrolment in the Territory with such a huge proportion of its workforce gutted. We urgently need more AEC resources – not less2.
Aboriginal people are already disadvantaged and under-represented and to take away their ability to vote in 2017 – 50 years after the 1967 referendum – is one more terrible example of the Turnbull Government putting Indigenous Australians last in any policy decision.
Territorians matter. Our votes matter. The Government must reverse this decision.