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Thursday, 28 October 2010
Page: 1019


Senator SIEWERT (11:35 AM) —I will ask my general questions first. This bill has been introduced twice; it was introduced previously during the 42nd Parliament but, as was pointed out earlier, it did not get dealt with. When the Attorney-General gave his second reading speech on this in 2009 he said:

… state governments have indicated that uncertainty in relation to native title can be a barrier to meeting housing and service delivery targets.

He noted:

This is creating delays.

In the second reading speech the Attorney-General made on the 2010 version, he said that there is a risk of creating delays. With all due respect, I appreciate that information was provided that the states say—this happened in the bill inquiry—that delays are being caused; my concern is, as I have articulated, that there have been delays in the provision of housing for decades. So what the government is saying now is: ‘There is a risk of delay’—after decades—‘and so now we are going to further diminish your native title rights because there is a risk.’ This takes away any power properly to negotiate, for example, where housing is provided in communities. And there are disputes in some communities about, for example, where staff housing is provided—because this also deals with the provision, as I understand it, of facilities and staff housing.

 I have been into communities in Western Australia where there is a dispute about, for example, where staff housing is provided. What this allows for is the overriding of communities’ ability to say where that housing will be provided. I would like to know why a change was made to the second reading speech to take it from ‘it is causing delays’ to ‘there is a risk of delay’. If possible, I would like quantitative evidence of the delays—days or months. Has there been a comparison between what happens in these communities in WA and Queensland and what happens in the NT?