Native Title Amendment (Reform) Bill 2011 Second Reading Speech - Senator Rachel Siewert
The Native Title Amendment (Reform) Bill 2011 begins to address the failure of the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) to deliver on its initial intent to provide meaningful rights and a basis for economic and community development to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the 18 years since its introduction.
By introducing this Bill and any further reforms in the future we intend to contribute constructively to a debate about native title reform that can ultimately lead to simpler legislation which produces more meaningful outcomes in a more timely fashion for all those involved.
In this first Bill we have sought to address some of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of native title reform – by targeting some of the areas of native title law where relatively simple amendments have been identified that could have far-reaching implications for addressing some of the current barriers to effective native title outcomes … essentially cutting a bit of a path through what Justice Kirby describes as the “impenetrable jungle” of native title litigation.
Almost two decades after the introduction of the NTA it is fair to say that native title has failed to deliver on its promises – as explicitly state in the Preamble to the Act, and in its Objects.
We hope that by the time we reach the twentieth anniversary of the NTA in 2013 the process of native title reform will be seriously underway, and we will be able to see native title delivering on some of the seemingly forgotten promises contained in the preamble to and objects of the NTA.