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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1312

Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (12:20): I will not delay the House long. Obviously, the Labor Party are in the position in this debate where we have had to argue about legislation which we have not had a chance to consider and on which we have not had an opportunity to consult. Obviously, that has put a limit on the number of speakers who are able to speak today and also has put a limit on the quality of those speeches in terms of the extent to which they have been able to mount a final argument.

The thing for the Labor Party when it comes to consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is that that consultation is real. We do not know our final position until we have conducted that consultation. I say that to the government.

I also say it to some of the environment groups that wanted to see this legislation through the lens of one project. The Labor Party cannot support a view of Aboriginal self-determination that says, 'We will support self-determination when it agrees with our environmental agenda and oppose it if it does not agree with our environmental agenda.' If you have that view then, put simply, you do not in fact believe in self-determination. When the Labor Party consider this bill our sole focus in arriving at a final position will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. That will be the consultation we will be conducting and that is how we will be arriving at our decision.

I caution anyone wanting to consider this issue through the lens of one project in one part of our country and simply say: how can we possibly ignore all the other places in Australia where this legislation will be relevant? Also, how can our position on self-determination be determined by whether or not Aboriginal communities agree with us? If we have been serious about any of the arguments that have been made in the House this week, we need to be serious about the fact that native title is there because the title is then owned by the traditional owners. That is the meaning of the term.

I want to put that on the record to make clear the way in which Labor will be arriving at our position. There is a better debate to have once the consideration has concluded and once the consultation has concluded. Unfortunately, that better debate will happen only in the Senate because of the timing and the manner of this debate. I leave on the record that we may well be in a situation where Labor in the final analysis is voting in favour of this bill but where we land will be determined by the consultation we conduct and that consultation will, quite properly, be with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who have been left out of the discussion up until this moment.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.