House debates

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006

Consideration of Senate Message

1:44 pm

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts) Share this | Hansard source

In following on from the remarks made by my colleagues the member for Lingiari and the member for Fraser, I want to speak about the way this legislation has travelled through the House and about the significant disquiet on the part of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory because they do not feel that the consultation process has been at all adequate.

Traditional owners and others have legitimate claims under way and are going through a process which includes, under the Aboriginal land rights act, claims on the intertidal zone. By the effect of the government’s legislation, they now find that they no longer have the capacity to proceed with the claims made by them for their country and for their rights to country. It is a particularly poor day for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory when legislation like this comes through the House at such a pace.

The member for Fraser mentioned the aspects of the legislation that Labor are supporting. During this debate, Labor put the proposal that we should split the amendments and identify those parts of the legislation which have consent and which mining organisations, traditional owners, governments and communities believe have purpose and merit. We want to look closely at those matters on which there is consent. They are the matters that should be considered by this House. That is what democracy is all about. People have anxiety and concern because they do not feel that they have been properly consulted or because they feel that their rights are being denied or taken away. Those rights, which were hard fought for some 40 or more years ago—and we will be recognising and commemorating some of those campaigns in this House over the next 12 months—will be denied under this legislation.

I again echo the comments of the member for Lingiari to the minister: there are amendments here which we think have merit and deserve your consideration. The way in which this legislation has come through the House has not served the people of the Northern Territory.


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