Wild Rivers Environment Management Bill 2011
Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (11:41): I have been very restrained in this debate, so I thank the chair for recognising me. Finally, after two hours, I move Greens amendment (1) on sheet 7075:
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (lines 1 to 3), omit clause, substitute:
This Act commences the day after the commencement of the Native Title Amendment (Reform) Act 2011.
The amendment seeks to add a clause to the bill so that it commences the day after the commencement of the Native Title Amendment (Reform) Act 2011. The reason I am moving this amendment is that I have listened to this debate two or three times now and I find the hypocrisy almost unbearable. The coalition are the party that brought in Wik amendments on native title and that have not supported Green amendments to the Native Title Act in the past to do what they say this bill does—that is, give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders free, informed, prior consent. They want to limit it to a group of people in this country. They do not in fact want it to apply to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. They did not support Australia endorsing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was—I will give credit where credit is due—the Labor government.
Senator Boswell: Well, what advantage have they—
Senator SIEWERT: My bill, the Native Title Amendment (Reform) Bill 2011, introduces other very important amendments to the Native Title Act that make it actually operable—because we know that the complex nature of that legislation has stopped people getting native title rights. So many barriers have been put in place that the native title system has become essentially unworkable in many cases. My bill seeks to put in place what the Aboriginal community have been crying out for. So who has been listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders? The Greens have been, so that we can make native title work—
Senator Boswell interjecting—
Senator SIEWERT: They do not, Senator Boswell! Senator Boswell, go and look at the election results in the Northern Territory. The Greens got 30 per cent of the vote in some areas, and do you know why? It is because they know that we are the ones who stand up for them—
Senator Scullion interjecting—
Senator SIEWERT: in the same way that we have stood up for them over native title. If you were genuine about supporting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, you would support our native title amendments that would bring real and meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. So do not come in here and lecture all of us about how we do not care about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, because you do not have a leg to stand on in that debate. Support our native title amendments; then I will believe you care about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. That is why we have put this amendment forward. Chair, Senator Heffernan wants to make another ad hoc statement!
Senator Heffernan: I would like the senator to withdraw the statement that I do not care about our Indigenous people—
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator McGauran) (11:41): Senator Heffernan, you are taking a point of order, are you?
Senator Heffernan: I am taking a point of order.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (11:44): Make it a good one, and not a rambling—
Senator Heffernan: I want Senator Siewert to withdraw the accusation that I do not care about Indigenous people.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.
Senator SIEWERT: Senator Heffernan, if he does care about the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, will support my amendment to the Native Title Act. I have moved this amendment so that the benefits of native title will flow to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I commend my amendment to the chamber.