Today the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreement) Bill was withdrawn from debate in the Senate, thanks to George Brandis’ incompetent handling of the Bill.

Labor recognises the significant uncertainty created by the McGlade decision in the Federal Court last month, and has been prepared to work with the government to find a solution as quickly as possible. At every step, we’ve been guided by the views of native title holders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

The original legislation introduced by the Government went much further than was required to reverse the decision in McGlade. The Government’s proposal would potentially have undermined the Native Title Act and created even more uncertainty for native title holders.  

Fortunately, Labor was able to secure important amendments through the Senate Inquiry that protected the integrity of the Native Title system.

These amendments received widespread support from native title representatives around the country, including the National Native Title Council, Kimberly Land Council, Native title Services Victoria, Central Desert Land Council and others.  

However, in amendments circulated at the 11th hour, George Brandis then tried to impose new changes on the bill – without any consultation whatsoever. This is just unacceptable.

Labor has a proud history of creating, strengthening and defending Native Title and Indigenous Land Rights.

The native title system is not something that should be changed on a whim, without proper time to examine what the implications are for Indigenous people.

This entire mess is a direct result of the government and Senator Brandis trying to rush these changes through the Senate without bothering to properly consult Indigenous people.

This is from a government whose Prime Minister has stressed the importance of doing things “with” Indigenous people, and not “to” them. It is immensely hypocritical.

Labor stands ready to find a quick solution, which reflects faithfully the position reached by the Senate Inquiry and has wide support from all sides of this issue.

But we will not vote for ad hoc changes that go further than restoring the legal validity of agreements to the position they were in prior to the McGlade decision.

We will never make significant decisions that affect Indigenous people without listening to what they think.

Labor has taken a cautious and responsible approach to this complex issue. In the short time we had, we listened to native title holders and we thank them for their strong advocacy and insight in assisting us to reach this decision.



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