A former Northern Territory politician has raised important questions about why many First Nations Australians fail to vote in local, state and Federal elections.

Matthew Bonson is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian who represented the Top End seat of Millner from 2001 to 2008. He worked as a lawyer before entering politics where he went on to become the Minister Assisting the Chief Minister on Multicultural Affairs.

Mr Bonson also served as the CEO of the Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Programs, the largest alcohol residential service in the Northern Territory and has contributed to the Commonwealth Government’s policy on the Northern Territory Intervention.

“The real question we should be asking is: have they made a choice not to vote?”

Speaking about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Voice to Parliament on CAAMA Radio Mr Bonson spoke of “the need to decolonize our minds” on the issue of voting. Drawing on the knowledge and wisdom of Top End Aboriginal Elders, Mr Bonson challenged preconceived ideas about voting in a system which many of his people believe do not truly represent them.

Matthew Bonson. Photo by Paul Wiles
CAAMA’s Paul Wiles speaking to Michael Monson