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Voters urged to keep Indigenous representatives

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 11 September 2004

The only Indigenous member of Australia's Parliament has launched his campaign for re-election to the Senate.

Senator Aden Ridgeway says that with both major parties agreeing to abolish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), it is more important than ever that the concerns of the Aboriginal community are heard.

Senator Ridgeway has also brushed off concerns that he will lose his seat to the Greens.

He says while there may be a perception the Greens are eroding support for the Democrats, he is confident people are happy with the party.

"I shrug off any threat from the Greens," he said.

"We've got a clear record of achievement, we see ourselves as being the only strong and independent voice in the Senate.

"[Other minor parties] might talk loud but there's no substance.

"We get the real job done and that's we propose to continue to do."

Senator Ridgeway says voters need to realise how important this election is for the Indigenous community.

"It would be a shame if people forgot [that] Parliament needs to be representative of all in Australian society," he said.

"I'm the only Indigenous person in the Federal Parliament and the second in 100 years.

"I want to make sure that where both the Government and the Opposition have made decisions to abolish ATSIC that there is the retention of an effective voice on Indigenous issues."

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