Thursday, 16 June 2011
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011; Second Reading
In relation to carbon farming, the government have left it open to talk to Indigenous groups about non-exclusive possession. I am welcoming that. I have said, and I repeat, my position is that we should be generous. We have had two speeches, one from the former Prime Minister, Mr Keating, and one from the current Chief Justice of the High Court, Chief Justice French, who is a former President of the National Native Title Tribunal. In effect they are saying that we should revisit the way we do business in relation to native title. In relation to this matter we do not have to revisit it. What we can do, because it is an evolving thing, is be more generous. We have done that by opening negotiations. That is where I am coming from.
The other question in relation to the matter before the House that Indigenous people are worried about is the question of additionality. In the submission to the House of Representatives committee from Centrefarm dated 15 April, they say on additionality:
The adoption of the 'addition' provision in the CFI as it currently stands will significantly impair the rights of Aboriginal people to participate in carbon markets. There are a range of carbon projects that could be or currently are being undertaken on Aboriginal land that may well fall into the 'business as usual' category.
For example, Indigenous Protected Areas: if an agreement with the Australian government exists that Aboriginal land will be managed for conservational purposes, and then funding is provided to develop and implement a management plan for these; any cool season fire management carbon abatement initiatives could be considered 'business as usual' and be disqualified.
My suggestion to overcome that is that the additionality provisions should not apply to Indigenous people. We can justify that on the basis that what we are trying to do is advance Indigenous people's position in Australia today. We talk about closing the gap and this is a method whereby we can make an exception in relation to additionality if it makes it harder for Aboriginal people to participate. It should be welcomed by those opposite because it actually falls within the racial discrimination convention of positive treatment. It falls within that area that allows us to do this. So I commend that proposal to the government as a way of overcoming the problem. (Time expired)