Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011, Carbon Credits (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011, Australian National Registry of Emissions Units Bill 2011; In Committee
In the majority report of the Senate committee that looked into this, recommendation 7 was:
The committee recommends the government address obstacles to indigenous participation in the CFI, including resolving outstanding uncertainties in relation to participation by holders of non-exclusive native title.
I understand what the minister, Senator Conroy, has said—that this would act as a right of veto. Could he expand on that? This was a recommendation of government senators in the majority report. It acknowledged the very serious concerns that were raised by the National Native Title Council and the Kimberley Land Council. The National Native Title Council said that the bill gave certainty to exclusive native title rights holders and treated them in a way that was 'fair and appropriate', and the government is to be commended for that in relation to the bill. But the NNTC, the National Native Title Council, said:
The failure to provide a clear pathway for non-exclusive native title holders into participation in offset projects is a major weakness …
When you consider the submission and evidence of the NNTC, it says, for instance:
Let us take Western Australia as an example. Approaching 20 per cent of the state is subject to an existing native title determination and, of that approaching 20 per cent, probably 90 per cent or 85 per cent is non-exclusive native title. This bill, other than by the mechanism of an Indigenous land use agreement with a state or territory government, provides no opportunity for non-exclusive native title holders to participate.
If you want to deal with Indigenous opportunity and this particular issue, there is enormous uncertainty. The National Native Title Council's significant concern is that:
… by sidelining the treatment of non-exclusive native title, by relegating the treatment of that issue to the Native Title Act, in fact the Carbon Farming Initiative bill is excluding non-exclusive native title holders from participation.
The Kimberley Land Council say:
The treatment of non-exclusive native title is discriminatory and fails to accord proper importance to the interests carried by native title.
… … …
The KLC observes that the effect of the proposed system would be to confer proprietary rights in carbon on holders of non-exclusive non-native title interests, while excluding non-exclusive native title holders simply by reason of the type of proprietary interest they hold. The KLC considers that there is a real risk that such an approach is inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act …
So my questions to the minister are: firstly, has the government got advice as to any potential breaches of the Racial Discrimination Act in relation to the concerns expressed by the Kimberley Land Council; secondly, how is the government addressing the, I think, very legitimate concerns of the majority of the committee, a committee that is chaired by a government senator and that has looked at this very, very carefully? Senator Cameron and his committee have done a very diligent job in exploring, I think very fairly, the concerns that have been raised. The committee recommended that the government address obstacles to Indigenous participation in the CFI. How does this bill address those concerns of the committee, and is there an issue with the Racial Discrimination Act? It is a real concern to me that the Kimberley Land Council has flagged that there could be a Racial Discrimination Act action taken because of this bill.