Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006
Senator Evans was right on one thing: I have not been persuaded by the eloquence of Senator Siewert, although I listened very carefully to her views. The amendment which has been moved has three parts, (a), (b) and (c). The first reads:
The Minister must not approve the request unless he or she is satisfied that:
(a) the body will be able to satisfactorily perform the functions and exercise the powers sought by the body;
This is in fact already in the act. The second part, (b), reads:
(b) the body has a sound governance framework and prudent management;
We believe that (b)—and this is the point that was raised by Senator Evans—is already encompassed in (a), so there is no need to specify that particular element separately. We do not agree with (c); we do not accept it. It reads:
(c) a majority of traditional Aboriginal owners of the region represented by the body consent to the delegation.
Let me outline our reasons for that. Bodies corporate which are delegated land council powers will be required to represent Aboriginal residents as well as traditional owners. Therefore, the consent of traditional owners to the delegation of the powers would not be appropriate; it would be inappropriate. It does not recognise, in our view, the rights of Aboriginal residents. Therefore, we will not accept amendment (4)(3)(c) because we do not agree with it. While we agree with (4)(3)(b), we believe that (b) is already encompassed in (a), as it is already part of the act. Senator Evans was quite right to remind the chamber that the government do place great weight on sound governance framework and prudent management, but we believe that is already encompassed in the bill as it stands. The government cannot accept this amendment.