House debates

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation) Bill 2008

Second Reading

1:45 pm

Photo of Peter LindsayPeter Lindsay (Herbert, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

This is not about the opposition and it is not about the government. The Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation) Bill 2008 is about disadvantaged people—and children. That is what we have to continually think about, front and centre. I come to this parliament with some experience in these matters. In my electorate, off the coast of Townsville I have Palm Island, an Indigenous community of about 4,000 people. I have been going there for 12 years. Every time I go there my heart goes out to the people because I know and understand that, with the way things are, nothing is going to change in their lives. In 100 years they will be the same—a dysfunctional, hopeless community. It has to change. We have to make sure that we do things that improve the lives and the lot of Indigenous Australians. Later in this speech I will argue one of the ways where I see that that can happen, and it will relate to the provisions of the bill.

Let me tell you about a stark contrast. In late January I was able to go to Vanuatu. Vanuatu has an Indigenous population; they are Melanesian. I was able to go into the Melanesian villages and rub shoulders with the people of Vanuatu. Do you know what I found? I found no permit system—anybody could go into the village. You were welcomed with open arms. There was no pornography. The villages were clean and tidy. The villagers built their own homes and took care of them. Apart from a bit of kava, there was no alcoholism. People were healthy and everybody had a job. The result of all that was that people were happy and lived long and fruitful lives. Why can’t we be like that in Australia? That is what the parliament has to think deeply about.

The world is not black and white. We should not be hung up about whether what we are doing is politically correct or against the Racial Discrimination Act. We should be thinking: does it give the right outcome? In relation to the two major matters in this bill, it does not give the right outcome.

I am a great believer in openness in our society. People complain to me about sexual material on the shelves of newsagents these days and they say, ‘My kids can see; do something about it; ban it.’ I say: ‘No. As a parent I taught my kids not to go anywhere near that material. You can do the same.’ But it is not the same in Indigenous communities for a whole raft of reasons. That is where the world is not black and white. That is why we should maintain this ban on R18+ material going into Indigenous communities, where dreadful, dreadful sexual assaults and domestic violence are going on against kids. We should do something. We should be positively proactive.


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