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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13545


Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (10:13): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011 is the companion bill to the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011.

This bill amends existing Commonwealth legislation, and sets out transitional arrangements, to complement the new primary legislation established under the main Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill.

This bill seeks to repeal the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007.

The speech I have just made on the main bill described our clear commitment to put new housing on firm foundations through secure tenure—so responsibility for maintenance, responsibility to pay rent and responsibility to build new housing is clear for the first time.

We have made clear our commitment to no new five-year leasing arrangements, and our intention to move to long-term voluntary leasing arrangements to give communities and governments certainty as we plan for the future. This bill includes savings provisions which make this transition possible. These provisions will preserve the current leasing arrangements as necessary until their planned sunset date—so that we can work with communities to transition to new, voluntary leases.

This provision also makes sure that rent can continue to be paid to the Aboriginal land owners of the five-year leases.

The bill will also allow landowners of Community Living Areas land to receive the help of land councils in managing their land, including negotiating lease arrangements.

This is designed to support the voluntary leasing arrangements—so that communities and governments have certainty and can accept responsibility for land and housing.

The measures we introduce today reflect our evaluation—of what is working and what is not.

They also repeal those measures in the existing legislation which have not worked or which are no longer needed.

This bill repeals statutory rights provisions that provide rights to carry out works in a construction area, and to occupy, use, maintain, repair or make minor improvements to the buildings and infrastructures in the construction area.

These are not consistent with our approach to voluntary leasing, and have never been used.

This bill also includes transitional arrangements for the measures to tackle alcohol abuse and to improve licensing arrangements for community stores that are considered in the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011.

This bill will continue measures which have helped make communities safer and to protect their most vulnerable members, women and children.

The recently released evaluation of our work in the Northern Territory showed that nearly three out of every four people said that their community felt safer than four years ago.

The bill continues and makes minor changes to the restrictions introduced by the Northern Territory Emergency Response on sexually explicit and very violent material (the pornography restrictions) in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

This measure will be subject to the 10-year sunset applying to measures in the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill and the review to be undertaken at seven years after the legislation commences.

The bill continues the prohibition on taking customary law and cultural practice into account in considering the seriousness of an alleged offender's criminal behaviour in bail and sentencing decisions for Commonwealth and Northern Territory offences.

However, some changes are proposed to exempt offences that protect cultural heritage, such as offences around damaging sacred sites and cultural heritage objects. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.