Linda Burney's significant career moment

United purpose. Labor MP for Barton,Linda Burney, with Liberal MP Ken Wyatt (left) and Labor Senator Pat Dodson. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen
United purpose. Labor MP for Barton,Linda Burney, with Liberal MP Ken Wyatt (left) and Labor Senator Pat Dodson. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

Barton MP Linda Burney defines her appointment at Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians as a significant moment in her career.

"I've been in political life for about 16 years and I have avoided the Aboriginal portfolio because I didn't want to be defined as the Aboriginal spokeswoman," she said.

"But I feel I have reached a point in my career and life where I am ready."

Ms Burney was the first Aboriginal person to serve in the NSW Parliament as Canterbury MP and the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives when she won the seat Federal seat of Barton in 2016

Her new appointment was announced by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on June 2.

Ms Burney will continue with the Shadow portfolio of Family and Social Services which has subsumed her former portfolio as Shadow Minister for Family Violence.

In her role as Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, she will be assisted by Northern Territory Lingiari MP Warren Snowdon and West Australian Senator Patrick Dodson.

"We lost the election so we are in Opposition with the role to hold the government to account," Ms Burney said.

"Our job is to look at what the Liberals took to the election in the First Nations sphere and see that it is implemented.

"Anthony Albanese has made it clear that Labor continues to embrace the Uluru statement.

Welcome to Country: Barton MP Linda Burney presenting the Aboriginal flag she donated to Uniting West Bexley preschool last year.

Welcome to Country: Barton MP Linda Burney presenting the Aboriginal flag she donated to Uniting West Bexley preschool last year.

"There is also within the Labour Shadow cabinet the First Nations Caucus committee chaired by Malarndirri McCarthy Labor Senator from the Northern Territory which will be examining relevant legislation presented by the government."

Ms Burney will be travelling to Darwin next week to meet with Mr Snowdon and Senator Dodson to discuss the portfolio and their responsibilities.

She will be concentrating on the Closing the Gap Strategy and holding the government to account for meeting its targets.

In the Family and Social Services Portfolio she has concerns over the Government's intentions about the payments system.

"Five million Australians are in receipt of payments including disability and unemployment and I am charged with the responsibility of keeping the government to account," Ms Burney said.

"My priority it to ensure there no diminution of people employed or decline in services.

"I think what we are going to see is a much more punitive approach from this government than in the past.

"I am a great supporter of of mutual obligation but there is a difference between mutual obligation and punitive action.

"I think you don't beat up the most vulnerable in our society."

In her role as Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, she has offered to work with the Minister for Aboringinal Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt particularly in addressing indigenous suicide.

Closer to home, she will be in contact with Elders Group in Bankstown and the local Aboringal Land Councils.

"I think in the Aboriginal affairs portfolio it is important to realise there is an urban perspective and not just a regional one," she said.

Asked what she would like to achieve in the next three years, she said, "I'd like to see better social justice outcomes and moving towards Closing the Gap and work to establish a Voice to Parliament.

"Plus I would like to see some education of Australian history in the broader community."

She acknowledges there is some good work being done particularly in local government.

"You see councils flying the Aborignal flag and recognising Naidoc Week," she said.

"There is some of the good work going on around the river and with the regulation of Aboriginal place names, for example, at Wolli Creek where there are signs which informs people they are now entering Gadigal country.

"I'm seeing the flying of the Aboriginal flag and an Aboriginal perspective in the community. I think we are growing up in a community where it is normal to pay respects to Aboriginal culture."

She sees a busy time ahead with her new responsibilities but is ready for the challenge.

"If you want something done give it to a busy person," she said.

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