Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006
Far be it for me to suggest that the minister repeated the same points ad nauseam in his contribution. I think he is right, though, that it is worth looking at history and the whole act that we are debating, which was put in place back in 1976 by a Liberal government. History shows us that the big difference at that stage from what is being done now was that it was put forward in a bipartisan way, as have been many of the amendments since.
Whilst I shall refrain from impugning motives, not least because it is against standing orders—so I would have to withdraw it anyway—it does get more difficult not to do so when there is such a consistent, deliberate refusal to consider people’s views. In this particular example, we are talking about, in the minister’s own words, restrictions that are in place on Aboriginal people. I do not think it is any accident. If you look at the whole range of things that have been done through this process, anything that is a restriction on Aboriginal people has stayed in place and anything that gives extra power to the government gets accepted.
It seems particularly unfortunate that an area that would remove a restriction on Aboriginal people and that would enable more flexibility for them to negotiate with regard to mining activities is not being agreed to. It gives a lie to the government’s rhetoric that this is about opening up opportunities for economic development for Aboriginal people and giving them maximum flexibility and incentive, because it keeps in place a restriction on that. In dealing with every other part of this bill the minister has pointed to the Northern Territory government as a reason for the government doing what they are doing—because the Northern Territory Labor government support it. But on this occasion, when it is not convenient, the government do not support it. That is a real example of what the government’s motivation is here.