Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023


Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee; Reference

5:58 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

I seek leave to amend business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1 in the terms circulated in the chamber.

Leave granted.

I amend the motion and move the amended motion:

That the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 4 June 2024:

(a) the establishment of a sunset date in relation to submission of claims of native title, after which no further claims of native title can be made; and

(b) the effectiveness of the operation of the native title system, options to improve economic development resulting from native title, and options to improve certainty over the claim process.

I rise to speak to this motion. What I am asking for is a reference to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for an inquiry into the establishment of a sunset date in relation to a submission of claims of native title after which no further claims of native title can be made. The reporting date for that will be 24 June. Paragraph (b) of the amended motion I have put up is:

(b) the effectiveness of the operation of the native title system, options to improve economic development resulting from native title, and options to improve certainty over the claim process.

I already know what's going to happen here. I know my motion is going to go down. And it's because in this chamber, whenever I put up any motion calling for accountability—like, I want an investigation into NATSIC and ACS, to do with Aboriginal accountability—I don't get the support. Yet the taxpayers are wanting accountability, but they're not having it. And when I put up a private member's bill on identification, to aboriginality—again, it's voted down; no accountability. And I know now, the same thing: this is going to go down.

But I am a woman of principle, and I must speak on behalf of so many Australians who have had enough, who have had a gutful. And it's very important that we have a look at this. I know Senator David Pocock is going to be voting against it. Now, just to give you an outline of this whole thing, Senator Pocock is actually from Zimbabwe. He went through being forced off his land because of the Blacks. He and his family were given 90 days to leave, because of the taking over of the land. He then was given the opportunity to come out here to live in Australia. He's had a great life. He's been one of the Wallabies. He's now a member of this parliament and has a casting vote on just about all matters of importance on legislation in this parliament. But on every occasion that I put up a motion to call for accountability, Senator Pocock says no, and also with this motion: he won't be voting for it. So, he's quite happy to see Australians constantly losing land in this nation, when the same thing happened to him in South Africa, in Zimbabwe. He's allowing it to happen here, with no accountability. It's quite amazing that someone who has had it happen to him and his family is quite prepared to see it happen here in Australia, without questioning, without accountability—nothing. It's like, nup, door shut, not interested.

I want to speak on behalf of many Australians who feel the same way as I do—a commonsense approach to it, that we just want answers, we want accountability. Native title has been a major issue impacting all Australians' land rights for more than 30 years since the Mabo and Wik decisions. It's time to put an end to it and introduce equal rights for all with respect to Australian land. Today more than half of Australia is under native title, and if all pending claims are factored in, up to 62 per cent of our country will be under it. That's almost two-thirds of this continent claimed by less than two per cent of the national population. I say less than two per cent because native title claimants must meet a higher eligibility threshold than just anyone who ticks a box to claim they're Indigenous. Only about 430,000 Australians meet this definition, as opposed to the 812,000 people who claimed Indigenous heritage at the 2021 census. I remind senators that this was a 25.2 increase on the 2016 figure, compared with an eight per cent rise in the overall national population.

I am moving this motion on behalf of millions of Australians who've had a gutful of native title. They're sick and tired of the explicit racial double standards underpinning native title. Non-indigenous Australians must work, save and borrow in order to get title to land. They have to buy it or at least inherit it from family who have bought it. Native title claimants don't need to do anything like that. They need only claim a form of historic spiritual or cultural connection—which, at best, had some validity generations ago but has been effectively rendered meaningless since. Why should a mythical belief in the spirit of a serpent inhabiting a nameless creek prevent a farmer from building a crossing over it, as happened in Western Australia earlier this year? I can't make spiritual connections claims like that. My great-grandparents worked land in the Lockyer Valley with their own hands many years ago. Their connection was more than spiritual or cultural. They poured their blood, sweat and tears into the land, raising their children on it. But my claim of connection to that land would never be recognised by granting me title. I'm Indigenous to Australia like anyone else born here, but, because I'm not Aboriginal, that sort of claim for land rights is denied to me.

I do not only refer to native title claims. Aboriginal Australians can make claims on any Crown land that's considered unused, and their legal costs will be fully funded by the Australian government. Respondents to these claims such as local government are not afforded the same support, despite the cost of running into millions of dollars. Even successful native title claimants, depending on who they are, are not able to take advantage of the economic opportunities.

I'm going to take that interjection from the Greens senator saying, 'Of course they are funded.' No, they're not. That was my question last week on the floor. But the Queensland South Native Title Services has in their budget $71 million given to them to make claims in Queensland. The budget was stripped of any money given to the respondents for this. There is no money in the budget. They stripped it. And what was in it? There was $7.1 million. So you're ill-advised or you don't listen to what's going on in the chamber to understand it, to make these allegations again. You make alligators, but you don't even know what you're talking about. That's why this has to be brought to attention. You're making allegations there; they're not true. The respondents are not given—


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