Northern Territory MP Chansey Paech has this week become the country’s first openly gay indigenous speaker of an Australian parliament.
Paech (pictured right), the Member for Namatjira, won his seat in the NT Legislative Assembly in the 2016 election. He became the first openly gay First Nations MLA in Australian history.
In his maiden speech, Paech declared: “I am the nation’s first openly gay, Indigenous parliamentarian.
“I am eternally proud of who I am and where I come from, I own and wear it with pride.
“I am young, I am gay, I am black. I’m a true-blue Territorian.”
Paech said he was honoured by the election to Speaker on Tuesday. He said he hoped it would inspire young indigenous children growing up in remote communities across the NT to pursue their dreams.
“It sends a strong message for our young kids, growing up, you have to believe in yourself and know that these are options for you in the future,” he said.
“Regardless of your race, regardless of your orientation… the possibilities are endless in the Northern Territory.”
Chansey Paech is youngest serving NT MLA
Chansey Paech was born and raised in Alice Springs and is also the youngest serving MLA at 33. He was a councillor in Alice Springs for four years before making the move to Territory politics.
After his election in 2016, Paech vocally campaigned for federal marriage equality and same-sex adoption in the NT.
On Wednesday, Paech delivered a speech to parliament on the Black Lives Matter movement. He warned racial discrimination remains within systems of government.
“This must change and that is what continues to motivate me, we need to do better,” he said.
“We can’t keep under-spending on remote Indigenous services [and] we can’t keep locking up our kids.
“We have to make sure that our children have every opportunity to go to school and access good health services and families in crisis get the support they need.
“The reality is until we change our systems and policies that govern our lives, black lives will not matter. We must change this because Black Lives Matter.”
Paech replaces outgoing Speaker Kezia Purick. Purick resigned this week after the NT’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption found she had engaged in corrupt conduct.
Member for the Darwin seat of Karama, Ngaree Ah Kit, was also elected the NT’s new deputy speaker on Tuesday.
According to the ABC, it’s the first time in history two First Nations people have held the positions in an Australian Parliament.
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