Fred Nile joins a new party, and introduces an Aboriginal rights bill

Fred Nile, the long-serving leader of the now-vanished Christian Democratic Party, has found a new political home – the Seniors United Party of Australia.

Nile’s incredible longevity – and his new party’s name – might mean he is now called SUPA Fred.

“I have no plans to retire,” he told a press conference this morning. “I will be standing at the next state election.” The SUPA is standing candidates for the Senate in two states. The party policies centre on providing dignity and resources to seniors.

“The Seniors Party approached me and asked me to join them,” said the party’s new parliamentary leader – and first MP.

Asked by a journalist if he was still providing value for taxpayers after 40 years in the NSW State Parliament, the 87-year-old Nile responded, “I will be demonstrating that seniors can still contribute to society”. He encouraged seniors to join the party, which is open to all and not restricted to Christians.

Revealing a mastery of navigating politics, he also introduced a strong bill supporting Aboriginal rights that is likely to gain support from the Greens and Labor.

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (Culture is Identity) Bill 2022 will prevent the destruction of Aboriginal heritage by awarding true custodianship of sites, objects, and remains to a newly created state agency, the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council (ACHC).

The ACHC must approve any permits to move, harm or destroy the items in consultation with local groups. The membership of the ACHC will be entirely Aboriginal.

The bill adopts the objectives of the Uluru Statement from the Heart by committing to the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process to develop proposals to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a say in the laws, policies and programs that affect them. It also follows the progressive self-determination principles of the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (VAAF).

Wiradjuri man and Co-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Roy Ah-See, dubbed Fred Nile as the “father of land rights in NSW’ and welcomed the bill. “Destruction of our cultural heritage is happening today in NSW,” he said. “This bill is long overdue.”

He said that the bill is “not about stopping industry or progress, but about giving us a say”. He described the bill’s effect, saying that Aboriginal people would be able to get the right to insist a bridge, for example, be moved.

Terence Robinson from the Tabulam local land rights council gave the example of the demolition of the Tabulam bridge (built by Aboriginal soldiers) and the destruction of scar trees.