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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8558


Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (11:50): This bill contains some non-budget measures relating to Indigenous affairs. Firstly, the bill continues the government's important program under Aboriginal land rights legislation for the Northern Territory by adding parcels of land near Borroloola and the Port Patterson Islands to schedule 1 to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. The scheduling of these parcels of land will help to resolve two long-running and very complex land claims.

The parcels of land near Borroloola are associated with the Borroloola land claim, which was the first land claim made under the land rights act. Once these parcels of land are granted, the Borroloola land claim will be resolved. The Port Patterson Islands relate to the Kenbi land claim over the Cox Peninsula near Darwin. The scheduling of the Port Patterson Islands will enable this land to be added to a grant associated with the Kenbi land claim to be considered later this year in accordance with the heads of the agreement between the Australian and Northern Territory governments and the Northern Land Council, which was announced by the Prime Minister on 29 June 2011. he bill also amends the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 in relation to the Torres Strait Regional Authority established under that act. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act provides for election of members to the Torres Strait Regional Authority. Presently, there is a connection between the election of members to the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the timing of Queensland local government elections. This bill removes that connection so that elections to the authority are conducted solely in accordance with the provisions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act. Removing the connection between the two sets of elections will also reduce the potential for conflicts of interest between the roles of people elected to both the authority and the Queensland local government councils. The authority has commissioned a governance review of its structure and the method of appointment of its members. The bill also amends the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act to allow for a wider range of options for the composition of the authority following that review.

The bill as introduced includes amendments to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act in relation to the Indigenous Land Corporation established under that act. The amendments were intended to allow ministerial guidelines to be made which the Indigenous Land Corporation must have regard to in deciding whether to perform its functions in support of a native title settlement and, if it decides to perform its functions in support of a native title settlement, in performing its functions in support of that settlement. However, amendments will be moved to withdraw that measure from the bill pending further consultation on the proposed guidelines. With the withdrawal of the measure, consultations can continue without delaying the remaining measures in the bill. As I mentioned, the other measures are scheduling further Aboriginal land and amendments in connection with the election of members to the Torres Strait Regional Authority. These will now be able to progress with a view to passage as soon as possible.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.