Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006
Senator Evans, the reason I did not respond to Senator Bartlett—and I feel a little bit constrained in saying this—is that, Senator Bartlett, your interventions are long and sometimes rambling, I regret to say, and you repeat relentlessly the things that we have already discussed at some length. You have a particular view and the government has a particular view. I do not seek to impugn your motives and I do not think you should seek to impugn the government’s motives. We just have a different view. It is a view that some others across the political spectrum share and some do not. It is not simply a matter of suggesting that someone is acting in bad faith or anything else.
The point I make is that if a land council or a body corporate performs a function in relation to Aboriginal land, they must get the consent of the traditional owners first. I think you are missing that point, Senator Bartlett. That point has been made throughout this debate, and there is not much more that I can add. You have a different view; we have a different view. We have thought hard about our view and, in weighing up the balance, we have come to a different position to yours. We give no ground to anyone in wanting to advance Indigenous interests. All of us recognise that action must be taken in this particular area.
Yes, there have been consultations, some of which have extended for nine years on this matter. At the end of the day, people have to reach a decision. The government have reached a decision. We have canvassed a variety of arguments. In the original reading, in the debate on the second reading and in the debate about splitting the bill these arguments have been long canvassed. We do not agree with you, Senators Bartlett and Evans, and we will not be accepting the amendment.