AFP rejects home affairs request to investigate Bruce Pascoe’s Indigenous heritage | Australia news

The Australian federal police has rejected a request via home affairs minister Peter Dutton that acclaimed author and historian Bruce Pascoe be investigated for what was claimed to be benefitting financially from claiming to be Indigenous.

Aboriginal businesswoman Josephine Cashman wrote to Dutton late last year, after she had been critical of Pascoe, and had called for the government to set up a formal register to assess people’s Aboriginality.

Pascoe identifies as of Tasmanian descent and Yuin by cultural law, and Cashman, who is on the government’s advisory group on the Indigenous voice to government, has questioned Pascoe’s ancestry.

Dutton’s office said it was standard practice for the allegations to be forwarded on to authorities, and did not reflect his own views on the issue.

In a response to Cashman published by News Corp on Thursday night, the AFP confirmed that “based on the information provided and inquiries undertaken no Commonwealth offences have been identified”.

A spokesperson for the AFP told Guardian Australia that Pascoe’s Aboriginality “was not relevant in determining whether a Commonwealth offence had been committed, as such there was no need to undertake these inquiries”.

Pascoe is the award-winning author of the 2014 bestseller Dark Emu, a book that challenged existing assumptions about Indigenous Australia, based on historical records showing Aboriginal people farming and living in large villages.

It was named book of the year, and has been turned into a children’s book and upcoming ABC TV series, but since its success, Pascoe and his book has been targeted by rightwing culture warriors such as News Corp’s Andrew Bolt.

Pascoe, who had been in Mallacoota fighting the bushfires, told the ABC earlier this month that he had been hurt by the accusations.

“Some people think that my association, family association, is too slim to worry about,” he said.

“I’ve said that all along that these are distant relationships, but they’re important to me, as is every relationship in my family.”

Guardian Australia has sought comment from Cashman. On Twitter, Cashman shared Bolt’s blog post on the AFP decision, in which he claims the AFP brief was “too narrow”.

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