Senate debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020


Aboriginal Flag Committee; Appointment

3:11 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I amend the general business notice of motion No. 792, standing in the name of Senator McCarthy, in the terms circulated in the chamber and I move the motion as amended:

(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on the Aboriginal Flag, be established to inquire into and report on current and former copyright and licensing arrangements for the Aboriginal flag design, with particular reference to:

(a) who benefits from payments for the use of the Aboriginal Flag design and the impact on Aboriginal organisations, Aboriginal communities and the broader Australian community of the current copyright and licensing arrangements;

(b) options available to the Government to enable the Aboriginal Flag design to be freely used by the Australian community, including:    

(i) negotiated outcomes with licence and/or copyright holders:

(ii) the compulsory acquisition of licences and/or copyright,

(iii) ways to protect the rights and interests of the flag's legally recognised creator Mr Harold Thomas, and

(c) any other matters relevant to the enduring and fair use of the Aboriginal Flag design by the Aboriginal and Australian community.

(2) That the committee present its final report on or before 13 October 2020.

(3) That the committee consist of seven senators, as follows:

(a) four nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

(b) two nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; and

(c) one nominated by minor party and independent senators.

(4) That:

(a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator;

(b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c) a participating member shall be taken to be a member of a committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(5) That two members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, where one member present was appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate and one member present was appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

(6) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(7) That the committee elect as chair one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and as deputy chair one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

(8) That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(9) That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(10) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider.

(11) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

(12) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—The Australian Aboriginal flag is a powerful and respected symbol for all Australians. The Australian government is aware of the concerns around the copyright of the Aboriginal flag and would like to see a resolution to this issue in a way that respects the rights of the flag's creator while ensuring the flag continues to be a powerful symbol of unity for Aboriginal people. It is a delicate and sensitive issue, and the government respects the copyright of Mr Thomas and the interests of all parties. We do not want to see the process currently underway jeopardised. It's important to note that the Australian Aboriginal flag can be flown freely, as per the intention of copyright holder Mr Thomas.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Gallagher, as amended, be agreed to.

Question agreed to.