Greens continue push for Native Title reform


The Australian Greens have pledged to continue efforts to deliver native title reforms as they mark this weekend’s twentieth anniversary of the groundbreaking Mabo decision in the High Court.
“Mabo Day is one of the most significant days in Australia’s history,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues said today.
“It was the day when finally nobody could deny that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had rights to their land and water, that terra nullius was a myth.
“Unfortunately, the promise of the High Court’s ruling on Native Title has not been fully delivered. The Native Title Act which was enacted in response to the High Court decision continues to have many problems which need fixing urgently.
“The Australian Greens have a bill before the Senate right now to begin the process of improving our Native Title System.
“During the next sitting of the Senate, we will commence debate on our private members bill The Native Title Amendment (Reform) Bill (No. 1) 2012.
“This Bill aims to address the barriers claimants face in making the case to demonstrate their pre-existing native title rights, and interests, we aim to reverse the onus of proof. The amendments also tackle some of the procedural issues within the future acts regime that restrict the ability of native title holders to assert and exercise their native title rights.
“The measures in the Bill are reforms that have been promoted for a number of years by stakeholders, including in submissions to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Native Title Amendment Bill 2009 and the 2009 Native Title Report from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.
“I will be encouraging MPs to participate in this debate and to support our efforts to improve the Native Title system and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Improvements to native title are an integral part of delivering on reconciliation and improving equality in Australian society,” Senator Siewert concluded.