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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4420


Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (19:39): I rise this evening to commemorate the tragic passing of a young Aboriginal woman, Alice Daiguma Eather. Alice was one of the 'stingray sisters' of her mother's clan, the Wurnal people—saltwater people. She was born in Brisbane and attended New Farm primary and Kelvin Grove high school with her sisters Grace and Noni. She was raised both in Brisbane and in her mother's country, Maningrida, in Arnhem Land.

Alice, by all accounts, was an extraordinary and inspirational woman and it is tragic that her life has been cut short. She was driven, strong and passionate, and I am proud to be able to pay tribute to her life in this way. Alice was a teacher, an activist, a poet, a songwriter, a musician, an artist and a community leader. She was deeply passionate about her language and her country.

Shortly after graduating in Maningrida as the first ever Ndjebbana-speaking teacher in history, Alice's work was recognised when she won the Indigenous Educator of the Year Award in 2016 for the Arnhem region. In 2014 Alice was also awarded the Northern Territory's Young Achiever's Environment Award, and she was the founder and leader of the Protect Arnhem Land organisation.

Alice fought to protect her country and the waters of the Arafura Sea that mean everything to her Wurnal clan from gas drilling. When she learned that an American company planned to drill the gas off the coast of Arnhem Land, she mobilised her local community and took the fight all the way to Sydney and Canberra. Alice's work was immortalised in a documentary, Stingray Sisters, which gained international acclaim.

Listening to Alice's poetry you can hear her passion and commitment to fighting for Indigenous rights and protecting country. Her celebrated poem My Story is Your Story is a powerful example of what an extraordinary woman Alice was. I would like to read a few lines of that poem:

When I see a map of Country, I see land, sea and family

When they see a map of Country, they see mining fantasies

When I see the sea-beds, I see sacred sites

When they see the sea-beds, they see dollar signs

When I see exploration permit 266, I see them trying to reduce my country into three digits …

Because of her efforts, last year the company withdrew their application.

Right across Australia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike are fighting to protect their land and waters from those whose only motivation is profit. I know that, thanks to Alice and those like her, we are seeing a shift in the way our country treats our sacred places and the relationship our Indigenous people share with them and also on the importance of maintaining a healthy environment over profit.

Alice was a leader and a role model for her community. Her loss has been sorely felt, but her legacy will not be forgotten. I will finish with the final lines of that poem:

When we cry, we cry the ocean

When we sweat, we sweat the ocean

When we drink, we drink the rivers and the rain, and we wash into the ocean where the cycle starts again.

I want to now speak briefly on another important issue. For many years, Gold Coast residents have faced continued uncertainty about a proposed major casino development on The Spit. Courageous local groups, including Save Our Spit, Save Our Broadwater, Main Beach Association and Gecko, which is the Gold Coast hinterland environment organisation, have been fighting to keep this land out of the hands of greedy property developers. The Spit is the last public undeveloped coastal green space left on the Gold Coast. The proposed casino development is nothing more than a public asset sale by greedy politicians on behalf of their corporate developer mates. Seventy per cent of Gold Coast residents oppose this development on The Spit. The Queensland Labor government promised that they would listen to residents' concerns, but they have recently backflipped and now they back this development. The project's developers, the ASF Group, and their business partners have donated $110,000 to the LNP and at least $40,000 to the Labor Party since 2013. There are concerns that key steps in the EPBC Act approval process for a proposed adjacent cruise ship terminal have been skipped by the federal Minister for the Environment and Energy. There is no transparency and there is a murky network of lobbyists, politicians and political favours behind this project.

Queenslanders have had enough. It is time for an alternative vision of how we build our cities, a vision that puts people before profit and is led from the grassroots. Residents have a right to make and remake the city they live in, and it is far past time that those in power recognised that.

In the Brisbane context, residents have been dealt a really dodgy deal by Labor's Queen's Wharf mega casino proposal. The Queen's Wharf proposal is one of the biggest public sell-offs in Queensland's history and it threatens massive harm to our community. The government plans to hand the developers public land amounting to almost 10 per cent of the CBD on a 99-year lease, which is of course a public asset sale by any other name. The development includes 2½ thousand parasitic poker machines and an unlimited number of harmful, addictive electronic gaming tables. Gambling addiction, particularly from pokies, rigged and designed to addict, leads to family breakdown, violence and broken lives. Queenslanders lose almost $4 billion a year on the pokies. That is about $8,000 every minute. Research shows not only that the larger a gambling venue the more dangerous it is for problem gambling but that areas with more pokies have higher rates of domestic violence.

The Queens Wharf project also proposes thousands of luxury apartments at the same time as the city is experiencing an affordable-housing crisis. The casino developers and their business partners have given over $200,000 in donations to the Queensland Labor and LNP parties since 2013, and there is an alarming lack of transparency around this development. Key documents are being kept hidden from the public or simply do not exist. These include the casino licence, the community impact statement, community consultation reports, the cost-benefit analysis or the business case, the 99-year lease and the probity checks on the casino developers.

Earlier this year I launched the Casino Leaks campaign, which called for anyone with access to these secret documents to leak them to me to share in this place using parliamentary privilege. In a shocking abuse of process, I was referred to Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission by the Minister for State Development for trying to uncover the truth. My message to Queensland Labor is: what are you afraid of? If this casino is such a good deal, show us the documents; show us the proof.

Let me be clear: the Greens think that the Queens Wharf site should be redeveloped, but the current proposal is a massive wasted opportunity. Why can't it be a world-renowned public open green space, affordable housing, a research precinct or a cultural precinct? Why can't we genuinely ask the community what they would like done with their public space in their capital city? Brisbane residents are already fighting back, and they are determined to stop this megacasino. And I look forward to helping them do it.