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Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Page: 273

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (17:53): I thank the minister and shadow minister for their contribution to the debate. To summarise just very briefly, there was some talk during the debate about whether a top-down or a bottom-up approach is needed. I will say that this piece of legislation is one of the most bottom-up, community-driven pieces of legislation that has come before this House.

It is said that the state and territory laws should be sufficient. Well, we are here because, although they have been successful in part, they have not solved the whole problem. And yes, it is right that communities should be the ultimate determiners of their own fate. But, as was expressed to me very, very clearly by people from Titjikala this morning, you can have a community that amongst itself has taken some very strong steps to eradicate sniffing, and you can have, a kilometre away from that, a petrol station that will sell sniffable fuel, and that will attract people from all around—from other communities as well—to come in, get the petrol, and then potentially infect the community that has done so much good work to get the problem under control.

Communities sometimes need the assistance of this place to give effect to what they want to do, and it has been the communities that have said: we are doing everything we can to get this under control and we need a bit of help. Lest it be thought that this automatically means something for state laws. There is, as the minister said, going to be a period of time in which the states and territories can now take those final steps if they want to and fix up their laws to do what the communities have been asking for for some time. But if they do not then now there is a stick that can be applied by the minister and the minister can say: well, if you are not going to fix it yourself then we will step in and do what the community wants.

This piece of legislation has already passed the Senate because it is good legislation. I hope that it will pass this House and become law because it is good legislation. It will make a difference. It will be an instance of this place giving communities the tools and the power that they need to control their own destiny. That is why, on today of all days, we have been discussing matters vital to the future and to the health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in this country. We can pass this legislation and empower communities to give them the power that they have been asking for. I commend the bill to the House.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the bill be now read a second time.