Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Regulations and Determinations

Industry Research and Development (Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program) Instrument 2021; Disallowance

7:05 pm

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on this disallowance motion. It's not the first time that this has been attempted. Yes, this government has committed $50 million in grants to advance the exploration of the Beetaloo basin, which we think and we hope will be extremely productive.

Why have we done this? This government gives grants to a lot of different industries that we think are going to be valuable for the Australian people and for our economy. We give lots of grants to things like hydrogen, battery storage, solar and wind, and lots of grants to business development and manufacturing. We do a whole lot of work in this space to try to advance economic development, and this is just one of those. This is to bring forward exploration of the Beetaloo basin, which has the potential to bring a huge amount of jobs and economic stimulus to the Northern Territory in particular and also to Indigenous people and traditional owners.

The Greens like to talk a big game about Indigenous people, but the truth is that they actually don't care about Indigenous economic advancement, Indigenous jobs, Indigenous businesses and independence from welfare. If they did truly believe that then they would be supporting this program. This program is not only going to provide jobs—actual long-term jobs—for the traditional owners of this area but it's also going to provide opportunity for Indigenous businesses. In fact, I am engaged with an Indigenous business at the moment in the region which is looking to provide services and a whole pile of other jobs to this industry. (Quorum formed) The Greens like to talk a big game about supposedly supporting Indigenous Australians, but they actually don't. What they want to do is oppress them. What they're doing is trying to infantilise Indigenous Australians. They want to keep them down. They don't want to give them economic opportunity, because this is the biggest economic opportunity that Indigenous Territorians have had in a very long time.

This will grow Indigenous businesses. This will provide Indigenous jobs. This will provide royalties for traditional owners. The Greens don't even know what a traditional owner is. And when they can't find a traditional owner that supports their view, they go and make one. They actually created a traditional owner. Senator Hanson-Young mentioned Rikki Dank and said that she'd come all the way from the Northern Territory to Glasgow. But she hadn't. She'd come all the way from Dubai, where she lives, and she has been confirmed by the Northern Land Council as not a traditional owner. But she certainly wants a slice of whatever's in it for her from the Beetaloo basin.

The Greens can't find traditional owners who support their views, so they go and make them. They create traditional owners who are fake. That's what the Greens do. They make up what they want in order to support their view. They are patronising to the Northern Land Council. The Northern Land Council is the body set up for determining who the traditional owners are and helping them negotiate with companies about their traditional lands. The Greens reject that because it doesn't suit their narrative. They reject the Northern Land Council, which is made up of Indigenous Territorians, and they go and make up their own traditional owners.

The Greens claim—and Senator Hanson-Young claimed this—that the traditional owners do not support this development on their land, but the truth is they do. The Greens also claim that the traditional owners are not capable of making the decisions regarding their lands. They are extremely capable. They sit down with the companies that want to explore and they sit down with the Northern Land Council. They're capable of understanding what's going on, what's going to happen, and they make informed decisions. They don't have decisions made for them, which is what the Greens would have you believe. They make informed decisions about their traditional lands. They make informed decisions about what are and are not sacred sites and where they do and do not want exploration to occur: 'You don't speak for me; you don't speak for my mob.' They're perfectly capable. The Greens would have you believe they're not capable. But, in fact, they are and they have made the decision that they do want to have exploration, economic opportunities and jobs on their land.


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