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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3339


Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (20:46): I want to respond to a couple of comments that the member for Aston has just made about the views of the Whitlams. My response is that I suspect that you are absolutely wrong about what their perception of what is happening in this parliament would be. They would be applauding and supporting the government on the stand it is taking on the Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill 2011. More specifically, I want to respond to the comment that the member for Aston made which implied that this is 'a simple proposition where all we need is the consent of the traditional owners'.

Let me tell you about a simple proposition relating to the consent of traditional owners, and that is the matter of the uranium waste facility proposed for Muckaty Station. That was a 'simple proposition', using your words, whereby the Howard government sought the consent of the traditional owners to select the site and received that consent, and the matter is now before the Federal Court because it was not a simple proposition. In fact there is a debate taking place right now about who the traditional owners are, so do not for a moment let the House believe that these are simple matters. They are anything but simple matters and that is exactly why this piece of legislation needs to be properly scrutinised.

When it comes to dealing with Indigenous issues in this country, the record shows that they are never, ever simple. They are always complex and there is always a multiplicity of views in respect of whatever the issue is. If nothing else it should teach us a lesson that, when we are dealing with Indigenous issues, we need to carefully consider what we are doing and consider the recommendations that we finally come to.

It is interesting that this motion is being debated tonight, less than a week out from the Queensland election. It is interesting in listening to comments from members opposite how often they have referred to the Queensland election in respect of this motion. It simply highlights that this motion is not about the substance of the bill on the wild rivers that is before the parliament; it is purely a political stunt, using this parliament for political opportunism to create division in the communities in Queensland prior to the Queensland election on Saturday. That is all it is about.

As other speakers from this side of the House have quite rightly pointed out, this is the third occasion on which the Leader of the Opposition has drafted legislation on this matter. The member for Aston said, 'It is only simple legislation that is five pages long.' If it is only simple legislation that is five pages long, why has it taken him three efforts to try to get it right? On the first occasion it lapsed because we went into an election in 2010; fair enough. On the second occasion it did not lapse, and I understand that that piece of legislation is still before the Senate. It has never been dealt with, yet the Leader of the Opposition has chosen to produce a third piece of legislation, and members opposite question why the legislation has been referred to 'one committee after the other'.

It has been referred to one committee after the other because, firstly, we have had three different pieces of legislation to deal with and, secondly, members opposite cannot get their own legislation right. Yet they expect members of the House to walk in here and accept this legislation or support it or rubber-stamp it—whatever it is they expect, I do not know. The reality is that this is indeed complex legislation which quite rightly has been referred to one of the House committees. The House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is currently looking at it and that is the right thing to do, and this House should not make a decision on the legislation until that committee has dealt with the matter. As chairman of the Standing Committee on Climate Change—

Debate adjourned.