Thursday, 26 November 2009
Northern Territory Emergency Response Redesign Consultation
- That there be laid on the table by the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (Senator Evans), no later than Friday, 4 December 2009, the complete and unedited transcripts of all four tiers of consultation meetings held under the Northern Territory Emergency Response Redesign Consultation process and any associated documents.
by leave—The government opposes this motion. The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has released a comprehensive report on the Northern Territory Emergency Response redesign consultations. The consultation process involved feedback from several thousand people at more than 500 meetings and workshops covering 73 remote Northern Territory communities and town camps between June and August 2009. The consultations were also independently audited. The government contracted the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia to review the engagement and communication strategy for the NTER design consultations and to observe a number of the consultations. Their report considered the openness and integrity of the consultations. This independent report is also publicly available. Given the scale of the consultation process, one of the largest with Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory, it would be a significant use of administrative resources to provide to the Senate the materials requested. If the Senate has any specific questions about any of the detail in the report, the government is only too willing to respond to those questions.
by leave—I reject the government’s comments on this issue. Yes, there was a large amount of consultation and yes, there was a supposedly an independent audit, but the really truly independent review showed a significant difference between what the government say the community said and in fact what the community says. The independent review has in fact released the transcripts of the meetings they have audited, which are significantly different from what the government claim was said in those meetings. That is why we want the full transcripts—so that we can actually see whether the government are selectively quoting from that consultation process, and the evidence to date strongly suggests they are. The government are basing the whole of their new welfare process supposedly on the consultation process. It is only right and fair, given the discrepancy between what the government say the community says and what the truly independent review by Melbourne university said, that they release those transcripts, on which they are basing the most fundamental change in welfare in Australia for a long time. They are basing that change on what that community supposedly said. That is why we want those transcripts, and I would have thought the opposition would have wanted those transcripts as well.