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Lambie, Mansell headed to Australian Human Rights Commission over Aboriginality dispute

Callan Morse – December 6, 2023

Tasmanian Senator and Palawa woman Jacqui Lambie has launched legal action against Michael Mansell after the Tasmanian Indigenous rights activist questioned her Indigeneity.

The independent senator has lodged a formal complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission arguing that Mr Mansell’s 2022 comments directed at her and members of a Tasmanian Aboriginal corporation constitute racial hatred under the federal Racial Discrimination Act.

The complaint alleges Mr Mansell made public comments in reference to Senator Lambie and members of north west Tasmania’s Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC), after Mr Mansell named them “poor whites” claiming to be and imitating Aboriginal people.

Jacqui Lambie’s complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission claims Michael Mansell’s comments directed at her and members of the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation constitutes racial hatred. (Images: The Examiner/NCA NewsWire)

On Tuesday Mr Mansell appeared to stand by his comments directed towards Senator Lambie, saying he “cannot wait” for the matter to be settled in court whilst calling for the Senator to “publicly lay out her (Aboriginal) bona fides”.

“I cannot wait for the matter to go before a tribunal or court,” Mr Mansell told The Australian.

“Or for Senator Lambie to publicly lay out her bona fides. That is all she has to do.”

In confirming her complaint, Senator Lambie said Mr Mansell’s latest comment “speaks for itself”.

“Sadly, it appears he is very preoccupied with my Indigenous ancestry,” she told The Australian.

Senator Lambie said Mr Mansell has not “done his homework”.

“In my first speech in the Senate, I talked about my lineage back to Aboriginal chieftain of the Tasmania east coast, Mannalargenna. I also talk about my Aboriginality in my book,” she said.

“Mr Mansell’s preoccupation with my ancestry is misguided. He’d do better working for Aboriginal people in Tasmania rather than against them.”

Both Mr Mansell and Indigenous organisations with which he is associated – including the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) and Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania (ALCT) – do no recognise CHAC along with its some 8000 members, including Ms Lambie, as Indigenous.

The organisation is based in Smithton, a town on Tasmania’s north west coast where more than 20 per cent of its population identify as Aboriginal.

In labelling Smithton’s Indigenous population figure “rubbish”, Mr Mansell implied only politicians seeking votes would believe such numbers.

“Who in their right mind would believe such rubbish – well, politicians anxious to get their votes maybe,” he said.

“In the last five years, a new group of 6500 Aborigines has appeared, mostly at Circular Head. Where on earth did they come from?”

Approximately 30,000 people identify as Indigenous in Tasmania.