Aboriginal elder Uncle Roy Maynard defends Jacqui Lambie over indigenous claims

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Tough times for Jacqui Lambie

Senator Jacqui Lambie opens up to Australian Story on the dark times in her past dealing with alcoholism and an addiction to prescription drugs. Courtesy: ABC Australian Story

AN Aboriginal elder has defended Jacqui Lambie over claims she is not indigenous, saying it was “disturbing” that members of the Tasmanian community had disputed her heritage.

The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania’s chairman, Clyde Mansell, said “huge gaps” remained after Senator Lambie used her maiden speech to reveal her Aboriginality, and claimed there was “not enough evidence” to back up her indigenous ancestry.

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Senator Lambie last week said her family traced its history over six generations to celebrated chieftain of the Tasmanian east coast, Mannalargenna — the family of which Mr Mansell is a known descendant.

But Tasmanian elder Uncle Roy Maynard told The Australian the Palmer United Party senator should not have to “prove anything” and criticised Mr Mansell for “attacking” her.

“I don’t think she needs to prove anything,” Mr Maynard said. “She’s identified as Aboriginal, she’s got that right as far as I’m concerned. I find (this dispute) very disturbing.

“I was quite proud of her that she identified and I had a bit of a feeling that something might happen when she did that. If they (the ALCT) used their heads right they should have accepted her and be on her side.

“When you’re talking about Aboriginal people you’re talking about community, you work together, you be as one. Not say ‘I don’t like you, you’re a danger’.”

Senator Lambie, who has revealed she wants to be the “face” of Andrew Forrest’s sweeping indigenous reforms, has provided ABC TV’s Australian Story with her family tree, which shows a link to one of Mannalargenna’s granddaughters.

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A 2002 Administrative Appeals Tribunal also acknowledged that this granddaughter, Margaret Briggs, also known as Mary, was an Aboriginal woman who married a white man, Thomas Hite.

But, according to the ABC, there is no trace of a Thomas Hite in the Tasmanian archival records.

The Tasmanian Pioneer Index also shows that Margaret Briggs died in 1839, aged 22, with no mention of a spouse or offspring.

Mr Mansell said neither the tribunal’s findings nor Senator Lambie’s family tree had been “tested” by the Aboriginal community and, if they had, would prove to be false.

“At some stage these claims have got to be tested and verified by the very community that they claim to be a part of,” he said. “I’m not trying to stop people from being Aboriginal, don’t think that for one minute, but if you’re going to claim to be Aboriginal you need to justify your claim and you need to show evidence.

“On the basis of the family tree that Jacqui Lambie produced to the ABC’s Australian Story there are huge gaps in the claim of some of the people (that they are Aboriginal).”

Senator Lambie today cautioned Mr Mansell against making his remarks and said it was a result of a “tribal war” in Tasmania.

“I’m not impressed,” she told ABC TV. “It’s a tribal war in Tasmania when it comes to Mansell’s group and the rest of us and I’d just say to Mansell I suggest you watch your step with me when it comes to my own indigenous (heritage).”

Rosie Lewis is a federal political reporter with The Australian based in the Canberra press gallery. She began her career at the paper in 2011 as a video producer and has worked across digital and print platfor...

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