Monday, 14 September 2009
Native Title Amendment Bill 2009
It is not delivering for Aboriginal Australians. We need to change the system so that it actually starts delivering some benefits. We need to have a system that is fairer and not stacked against Aboriginal Australians, which is clearly where this system is at the moment. It is frustrating to the claimants. It is not delivering the outcomes that were promised when this legislation was first envisaged.
Senator Brandis was trying to imply that it is the poor government and not native title claimants against whom the cards are stacked. In fact, this system is stacked against native title claimants. The government holds all the cards in that it is both the party who granted the interest in the first place and it is also the one who holds vast amounts of records. It is quite clear that these changes are needed. These changes have been recommended by a series of people involved in native title. We are moving an amendment which exactly reflects the words that Justice French proposed. We did not pluck these out of the air. We used expert knowledge to look at what changes were needed to the native title system.
I would like to ask Senator Wong some questions about some comments she made in response to my first comments. The minister said that the Attorney-General has an open mind on further changes and, if I understood correctly, that the government wants to first assess the impact of these changes. I would like to know what processes will be used to assess these changes and what is the timeline for that assessment? On the issues relating to resources, I appreciate the comments about the ongoing review. However, this is a substantive change to the way mediation will be carried out through the Federal Court and I am wondering if that is being factored into the timelines for the review of resources, maybe taking it outside of what would normally be the review cycle?