Monday, 11 September 2023
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee; Reference
Thank you very much. As I was saying, respondents to these claims such as local government are not afforded the same support, despite the cost of running into millions of dollars. My research shows there is an enormous number of claims put out through Queensland. Not only that; about 40,000 claims are put out in New South Wales alone. This has got nothing to do with native title; this is on top of native title.
The fact is that, just after the Howard government got in, he actually did move a sunset clause, and that was thrown out. I am aware that a fund was put up of about $1 billion, and that money was in perpetuity then to buy land, so about $40 million was also used to buy land. So, apart from native title and these claims on Crown land plus the funds that were set up, this has got to the point where Australians have had enough. They are effectively held hostage by the Aboriginal land councils, who refuse to give up control of the land and money generated from it.
Even the successful native title claimants, depending on who they are, are not able to take advantage of the economic opportunities. A lot of this land is handed over to the land councils. I've got to congratulate Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price on the fact that she wanted an inquiry into the land councils because of their corruption. That money is not going to the people. They rake in the billions from the royalties. They rake in the monies from the leases and landowners, but—guess what?—it doesn't go back to the Aboriginal people. This is where the Aboriginal people have themselves come to me and said: 'We want our own land. We want to be able to build our own houses. We want to get a loan. We want to build our businesses. But do you know what? We're controlled by the land councils.' This is what you've allowed to go on and on and on. That's why these people are in communities that are so downtrodden and beaten down by nepotism and by people in positions who are looking after their own jobs. That's exactly where the Voice will take us, as well, and that's another point.
There is another form of corruption here, and I talk about the land councils' control over the people that they are supposed to be looking after. But they don't. They name all these charities and rake in billions of taxpayers' dollars that go out the door. Where's the accountability? There's none. What I ask for today is for native title to be extinguished after 25 June. Put in your claims. Then, for a period after that, they'll all have to be sorted through. But the fact is that we have to call an end to it. At the end of the day, it is another form of corruption that prevents billions of taxpayer dollars for Indigenous disadvantage from getting to people who need it. It was John Howard who proposed a sunset clause for native title claims, and this might have been implemented if not for the Independent senator for Tasmania, Brian Harradine. A sunset clause is what I propose be examined in this inquiry along with the operation of the native title system, options to improve certainty over the claims process and options to improve economic development opportunities.
As I said, I believe that mid-June 2025 would give plenty of time to allow any remaining claims of native title to be lodged. After that, it will be time for equality. After that, all Australians, regardless of race, will have to do the same thing to purchase land—work, save and borrow. Special connections will be simply that, held in spirit only. If we intend to make a statement in this country that we are equal and that we're all Australians together, we need to think about this. I know you're not going to vote for it. You're not interested in accountability. You're not interested in pulling Australians together. It's all about division in this place all the time. That's a shame, because many Australians really want that. They are screaming out for equality. If we were to get rid of the idea of a person being of this race or that race or another race and say that we're all Australians born together in this country, you might have a chance of pulling it together and you might have a chance of looking after the maligned.
Regardless of whether you're Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or not, we have many Australians in this country who are disadvantaged and living in poverty. The Smith Family advertise that there are about two million children in this country living in poverty. What are you doing about that? You're doing absolutely nothing. The cost of living is destroying people. They are losing their homes; they don't have roofs over their heads; they have nothing. But all you're worried about now is your Voice to Parliament, which you don't need, because you have a voice. You know exactly what the problems are. But this is all about setting up sovereignty for another nation within the nation. That's what this is all about. That's why you need this native title to keep going on and on and on. Like I said, when you have only two per cent of the population owning what will be more than 60 per cent of the landmass of Australia, you have big problems. I, like many Australians, worked through blood, sweat and tears with the long hours to make the money to buy my land, and that's the way it should be. Forget about what happened 250 years ago. I'm not interested in that. We're all Australians born here today. Instead of making claims all the time, let everyone get their land the same way. Work for it as Australians regardless of your background, race or who you are. We're all Australians and should be treated equally, and I'll keep saying that time and time again.