House debates

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006

Consideration of Senate Message

1:29 pm

Photo of Mal BroughMal Brough (Longman, Liberal Party, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

I think all sides of the House would agree that the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 is very important legislation. I noticed that one of the newspapers this morning—I think it was the Courier-Mailwhen commenting about this had a fact wrong. That is unusual for the Courier-Mail. It stated that this legislation was introduced by the Whitlam government. As was rightly acknowledged by those who sit opposite—I think it was the member for Banks yesterday or the member for Lingiari—it was Fraser government legislation and landmark, as it was. I certainly was not part of government at the time, but I think all those at the time had great hopes that this legislation would lead to a new and improved set of circumstances for Indigenous Australians around landownership and ultimately around self-determination. Unfortunately, again as I am sure we would all recognise in this House, that has not come to fruition.

There has been a nine-year period of consultation for this bill. Wonderful and positive contributions have been made by a variety of groups, by the Northern Territory Labor government, by the Northern Land Council and by individuals. And the process will continue. There has been a long and wide-ranging debate in the Senate on this bill and on the amendments to it and a number of different views have been expressed. The one thing we all agree on, whilst we may disagree on how it can be achieved, is that we all have the goal of alleviating the plight of the First Australians, the Australian Aborigines. The last 30 years have promised much but delivered far too little to many of these remote communities.

As I said in this place yesterday and previously, the bill before us, which I hope to bring to conclusion shortly, is not putting any requirements on Aboriginal Australians. It is making the way forward to a better future easier, should they elect to do so. The bill will make the operation of what is already available less onerous, quicker to implement and less confusing for those who are part of the process. But, most importantly, it can make reality what the rest of us take for granted—and that is the opportunity to own your own home in your own right, if that is something you choose to do.

The amendments we are reconsidering today are the culmination of amendments to the original bill that were moved in this place; amendments to the amendments, which are money matters and which were moved in this place; and then a range of other inconsequential amendments, predominantly made in the other place. This now brings it all together, and hopefully today we will bring this matter to a conclusion. The honourable member for Lingiari has a couple of other amendments he wants this place to consider, so I will not delay the House any further.


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