BILLS - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Amendment (Indigenous Land Corporation) Bill 2018 - Second Reading
Posted in Pat's Speeches | November 28, 2018
I rise to speak in favour of this bill. It has been the subject of a fair amount of discussion between the minister's office and ours. I just want to be clear that I am speaking to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Amendment (Indigenous Land Corporation) Bill 2018.
This bill and the following bill, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund Bill 2018, have their origins in the Mabo decision of 1992, which recognised that terra nullius was a myth and that traditional title to land, custom and law had survived in many parts of Australia. It also found that, to our great sorrow—that is, the First Nations people's great sorrow—native title had been legally extinguished by the actions of successive Australian governments in many parts of Australia. In response, the Keating government established the Native Title Act, which defines native title and establishes a process for its recognition in the places that could prove that there had been no extinguishment.
The land fund, now officially known as the land account, was the second part of the negotiated agreement. The land account sets up a mechanism for compensation for the dispossession of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples since 1788. It sets up a new statutory authority created at the same time as the land account. The Indigenous Land Corporation, the ILC, has used the land account to purchase property for the use and enjoyment of Indigenous Australians whose native title has been legally extinguished. In 2018, the government, after a review period, introduced two substantive pieces of legislation and one piece of consequential legislation to alter the functions and governance of the Indigenous Land Corporation and the Indigenous land account. These are the bills in front of us today.
The first bill gives the ILC functions in relation to water related rights. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations can acquire rights to water. Assistance can be provided to acquire water based rights. Management actions can be taken on Indigenous waters, and assistance can be provided for those management functions. In other words, what the ILC could previously do on land it can now carry out on Indigenous owned and managed areas of water. It is important to understand that what was previously recognised as land rights has evolved in recent times to include sea rights. Those of us who are from the saltwater country have rights, responsibilities and commitments to care for the areas of salt water and fresh water that form our traditional lands and country. For example, the Yawuru people in my part of the world have management plans in place that support our traditional use of resources along the coast and in the waters of Roebuck Bay. It is timely that our roles to protect and manage our saltwater country should be recognised and supported.
The bill does not create any new rights, and the ILC, the Indigenous Land Corporation, is still required to exercise its functions in a manner that is consistent with the rights and interests of other persons or international law. The bill does allow for the change of the name of the ILC to the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, to better reflect the expansion of its functions. The ILC has conducted extensive stakeholder consultations in relation to changing its remit. According to their consultation report summary, there was overwhelming support for change from those participants. Labor supports the intention of this legislation. We support the expansion of the remit of the fund to cover water and support native title holders to exercise these rights. We support this bill.