Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Amendment (Indigenous Land Corporation) Bill 2018; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
Today I introduce the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Amendment (Indigenous Land Corporation) Bill 2018.
The bill makes a number of amendments to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 to expand the remit of the Indigenous Land Corporation's functions to enable it to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to care for, manage and benefit from freshwater and sea country.
The Indigenous Land Corporation is currently largely restricted to land based activities, preventing it from realising the economic opportunities that could be available on and in freshwater and sea country. This restriction is in contrast with traditional understandings of country, which often do not strictly distinguish between land and sea. It is also inconsistent with developments in native title case law that has now recognised native title rights over sea country. In some cases, this includes rights to take resources (such as fish) for commercial purposes, subject to applicable licences and permissions.
From July to September 2017, the Indigenous Land Corporation consulted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia on whether the remit of the Indigenous Land Corporation should be expanded to include functions in relation to waters. A clear majority of stakeholders supported such reform.
Consistent with the Indigenous Land Corporation's land related powers, the new water related functions would be for the purpose of providing economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Expanding the Indigenous Land Corporation's remit to freshwater and sea country, will enable more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to start businesses, get jobs, strengthen their connection with their culture and engage in environmental management.
For example, the Indigenous Land Corporation could assist an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to purchase a fishing licence or assist a sea ranger business that might bid for contracts to manage a marine environment or conduct patrols for the purpose of biosecurity.
To support these new functions, and consistent with its land related functions, the Indigenous Land Corporation would be able to make grants of money, guarantee loans or make loans. This will boost economic development for Indigenous communities as well as provide employment and training opportunities.
The new powers would not interfere with existing Commonwealth, state or territory water regulations nor will it grant the Indigenous Land Corporation any new or additional rights over existing players in relevant markets.
In line with these measures and in acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's connection with sea country, the bill also proposes changing the entity's name to the 'Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation'.
Along with the proposed changes to its funding arrangements, the government is confident that the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation will be well placed to continue to deliver economic, cultural and environmental benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into the future.