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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1066


Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (17:25): I understand that the government is now proposing a new act in relation to this issue after adopting the declaration. I think it is under an obligation to ensure that the process we are debating this afternoon accords with the declaration. I have just read into the Hansard record three specific articles to which, in my view, this bill runs directly counter. It simply violates them. It does not offer that process of free, prior and informed consent because, of course, if it did, you would not have people from neighbouring areas from that region—people who claim very strong connection to that country—fighting you in courts, fighting you outside the minister's office, turning up here in parliament seeking meetings, banging on the door, not having their phone calls returned and not having their correspondence replied to. The fact is that you have not offered the affected community any free, prior and informed consent.

Late last year, at the end of a budget estimates hearing, Mr Hill from the Northern Land Council advised us that he also had not visited Tennant Creek and met with the affected parties. You confirmed for us yesterday and again this afternoon that the minister and the Australian government have not either. The people trying to force this project into that region have not had the courage to go look the affected parties—the ones on the front line—in the eye. That is in direct violation of the spirit, the intent and the letter of that instrument. I think most Australians would be proud to know that we have indeed signed that declaration.

I understand that you are taking advice on whether or not the document that you read from before is something that could be put into the Hansard record. I also ask you to take on notice whether you have any advice at all, legal or otherwise, on whether the specific articles of the declaration that I read into the record are in direct and total contradiction to the terms of this legislation.