James Crafti, Melbourne
Zoe Kenny, Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal Seat of Melbourne, has welcomed the call by Richard Frankland, founder of the new pro-Indigenous Your Voice party, for a bill of rights.
"We hope to be able to work in solidarity with Your Voice members and fight for a better world", Kenny told Green Left Weekly on August 6.
Frankland, an Indigenous filmmaker, recently received $10,000 for the Your Voice election campaign after winning a competition on Channel 7's Sunrise program. Viewers phoned in to vote for whom they'd like to see as an independent candidate in their state. Despite multiple candidates running in the competition, Frankland won with a clear 58% majority.
According to the July 28 Melbourne Age, Frankland already has 400 of the 500 members required to receive electoral registration. However, the Age reported that the electoral commission "has indicated that registration could take more than three months. If unable to do so in time for the federal election, members will stand for the Senate as independents under a Your Voice banner."
Frankland hopes his Your Voice party will succeed where others have failed, notably former ATSIC deputy chairman Ray Robinson's short-lived, Queensland-based Australian Indigenous Peoples Party (AIPP) in the 1990s. But others have their reservations.
"I encourage Aboriginal people to take whatever steps they think appropriate that might bring about some benefit to our people", Tasmanian lawyer and land rights activist Michael Mansell told the Age. "I say, good on them. But history is against them... I don't think putting Aborigines up as candidates in the Australian political process is the solution."
However, unlike Robinson's AIPP, Frankland's Your Voice has a broader platform than simply giving parliamentary representation to Aborigines. The key objectives of Your Voice are ousting the Howard government and representing the interests of all people who have been marginalised and to "reinvent, or try to further establish, an identity for Australia that encompasses all Australians".
"We need a bill of rights", Frankland told a public forum on August 5, at which Your Voice was launched, "so that all people, regardless of race, colour, creed, gender, sexuality, physical or mental capacity or income, can meet their basic human needs of food, shelter, clothing, health, education, work, cultural tradition and religious belief."
From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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