CANBERRA -- It's that time of year for federal politicians to register their pecuniary interests. In amongst the details of superannuation accounts, wine gifts, exclusive club memberships -- and an acknowledgment by One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts that he owns a noteworthy amount of gold and silver bullion -- one real estate declaration has stood out.
Instead of an investment property or residential house, new Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has quietly entered her status as a traditional owner.
Senator McCarthy declares, when she is asked about her real estate (including the location and the purpose for which it is owned), that she is a traditional Aboriginal owner as defined in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, of Vanderlin Island (Wurralibi Aboriginal Land Trust) in the Northern Territory.
She declared she is a "second generation jungkayi ('custodian' for mother's country) for Wuyaliya country on Southwest Island (Wurralibi Aboriginal Land Trust)."
Senator McCarthy also said she is "jungkayi for the emu dreaming and country called ngalamja which is on 7 Emus station."
The new federal politician has told the Huffington Post Australia that she first registered herself as a traditional owner when she entered the Northern Territory parliament in 2005, but no-one ever noticed.
The Labor Senator gave a widely praised maiden speech earlier this month, welcoming migrants and speaking about her people's 40-year fight to be recognised.
The former journalist said she currently owns no property to declare and the act of declaring her status is part of her "struggle to be respected for her relationship to country."
Senator McCarthy told HuffPost Australia the declaration felt "quite natural" to do, but noted an "uneasy balance" between the Westminster political system and traditional beliefs.