Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Bill 2007; Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill 2007; Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Bill 2007; Appropriation (Northern Territory National Emergency Response) Bill (No. 1) 2007-2008; Appropriation (Northern Territory National Emergency Response) Bill (No. 2) 2007-2008

In Committee

5:38 pm

Photo of Bob BrownBob Brown (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I point out, as Senator Siewert has done, that this even goes further than removing the racial discrimination act as a bulwark against laws imposed on Indigenous people which do not apply to the rest of the country. For example, under clause 133, some Northern Territory laws are excluded. It says:

(1)           The provisions of this Act are intended to apply to the exclusion of a law of the Northern Territory that deals with discrimination so far as it would otherwise apply.

It goes a step further. It removes any Northern Territory law which might prevent discrimination on the basis of race; which might prevent a discrimination on the basis of the colour of one’s skin; which might prevent discrimination on the basis that you are a member of the first Australian community or nation; or which might prevent discrimination on the basis of the fact that your ancestors were here before 1788.

Part 8 goes to give extra powers to the minister to discriminate on a basis not seen in this country for half a century or more, and it is all unnecessary. The good that could come from this belated decision to put money and services into Indigenous communities to help them get the longevity, the education, the skills and the wherewithal that the rest of the community has does not need to be based on laws which are overtly and blatantly racist. But that is what the government has. This is a division called ‘miscellaneous’ which should be declared ‘the promotion of racism’, and we oppose it.

Question put:

That part 8 stand as printed.

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