Tasmanian Aboriginal groups to be audited

A prominent Tasmanian Aboriginal leader has welcomed a senate inquiry into funding provided to state Aboriginal organisations, saying he hopes it will result in future funding being directed to where it was most needed.

Michael Mansell

Michael Mansell

The inquiry was instigated by a motion from Senator Jacqui Lambie on Thursday with support from the government, One Nation, and Nick Xenophon Team.

She requested that Finance and Public Administration References Committee scrutinise if hundreds of millions of dollars in Commonwealth funds paid to Tasmanian Aboriginal organisations over the past decade.

Senator Lambie suggested that some of it had been unfairly or unjustly allocated to only a portion of the state’s Aboriginal population and that the inquiry would expose any potential corruption.

She said Tasmania's existing indigenous policy was unaligned with the Commonwealth's process, meaning people might be recognised as an Aboriginal in a national context but not in their own state.

Michael Mansell, former head of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, said he welcomed the investigation as it would show where and how the money had been spent.

He claimed federal money in the past had been distributed to communities where it had benefited non-Aboriginal people.

“The committee should aim to ensure that money that is genuinely set aside by the federal government with the intention of trying to improve the lives of Aboriginal people should go towards the most needy, not to people who tick a box,” he said.

The TAC accused Senator Lambie of waging war against them after they questioned her Aboriginal identity, proclaimed in her maiden speech to Parliament

She has denied this was the motive behind the inquiry.

Mr Mansell said the inquiry presented Senator Lambie with the opportunity to “clear the air” and provide evidence over her claim that she is Aboriginal.

The inquiry is due to begin next month.

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