Print this page

Leaders outraged as Indigenous issues sidelined by PM

Media Release                        Stand For Freedom Campaign                              23 July 2012

Leaders outraged as Indigenous issues sidelined

by Prime Minister

Indigenous leaders and human rights groups are outraged that their question to the Prime Minister concerning the human rights validity of the recently passed Stronger Futures legislation was not asked, despite it being in 4th place in last Saturday’s Google Hangout with the Prime Minister.

The question, posted by Stand For Freedom director Damien Curtis, received 9000 votes in just 4 days, making it one of the fastest growing and most successful questions in the online competition. It finished in 4th place, ahead of the carbon tax questions heavily lobbied for by commentator Andrew Bolt.

However, those supporting the question were bitterly disappointed when, out of a total of 17 questions put to the Prime Minister, their question did not appear, even though a pre-recorded Youtube video had been submitted of Aboriginal leader Barbara Shaw asking the question.

Along with the winning top 3, the other questions asked included 5th, 6th, 8th and 13th positions, 8 unlisted questions, and bizarrely 52nd and 88th positions (with 100 votes between them).

When asked why the question did not feature in the programme, Eyal Halamish, CEO of organisers OurSay, said that they tried hard to get the question in, “but this was up to Fairfax and the Prime Minister's office, at the end of the day.”

“We see this as blatant suppression of a widely held concern, that of the lack of human rights protection for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. This forum was not, as it claimed, an opportunity to hold our Government to account. It was a carefully orchestrated PR stunt by the Prime Minister. Once more, the Government has succeeded in gagging any dissent when it comes to its discriminatory polices towards the First Australians”, said Damien Curtis.

Barbara Shaw, who pre-recorded the question on video, said: “Why is it that we have these policies placed upon us, but when we legitimately question authorities about them, we get shut out? This is another clear example of the Government not fairly engaging with Aboriginal issues. Again, we have been pushed to the back.”

Les Malezer, co-chairman of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said he was  “deeply disappointed”. “The questions put to the PM have not been to the forefront of this nation's political priorities… I welcome the enlightenment on refugee rights, on children in custody, on gay rights and other new age reforms, but like all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people I refuse to accept that we are the doormat for all these agendas.”

To see the question in 4th position:

To view the question as recorded by Barbara Shaw:

Barbara Shaw
Damien Curtis, Director, Stand For Freedom campaign


Further Information


The Prime Ministers video clip answering questions can be found at

Damien's question

“Dear Prime Minister, the Stronger Futures legislation was recently passed in the Senate, subjecting Aboriginal people in the NT to 10 more years of Interventionist policy. This is despite overwhelming opposition expressed from Aboriginal leaders, national organisations, the general public and even condemnation from the United Nations. How can we call ourselves a country of the 'fair go' if the Government is now refusing to allow a human rights test of the legislation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, as called for by the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples? ”

was in 4th place with 8,944 votes. He provided OurSay with a Youtube of his question by Barbara Shaw.

Running order of questions for this "great democratic exercise" with the PM:

1. Education funding, 13th position, 1781 votes (LIVE)
2. "Are you Happy" on Youtube, unlisted (Youtube)
3. Obesity, unlisted (LIVE)
4. Carbon Tax, 5th position (Youtube)
5. Carbon Tax, 6th position
6. Jobs, unlisted (LIVE)
7. Malaysia Solution, unlisted (Twitter)
8. Abbott/Economy, unlisted (Twitter)
9. Defense indexation, 2nd position (LIVE)
10. To be female PM, unlisted (Youtube)
11. Depression in men, 8th position (LIVE)
12. Affordable housing in NT, 72nd position, 57 votes (Youtube)
13. Gay marriage, 1st position (LIVE)
14. Bullying, 88th position, 43 votes (Youtube)
15. School chaplains, 3rd position (LIVE)
16. Teen alcohol, unlisted (Twitter)
17. Vision for Australia, unlisted (Youtube)

Just looking at the LIVE questions:
The top 3, then
13th position
2 unlisted
8th position

Looking at Youtube questions:
3 unlisted
5th position
6th position
52nd (with 57 votes)
88th (with 43 votes)

On Twitter:
3 questions