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Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Page: 1306


Senator SIEWERT (4:00 PM) —I have circulated an amendment to this motion which seeks to expand the motion slightly to ensure that the committee addresses regional as well as remote Indigenous communities. In fact, the Greens would have preferred to have seen this issue referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, as that is the committee that has been extremely involved in looking at issues affecting Indigenous communities. We do, however, think that an ongoing inquiry such as this is very important, because we do agree that this is going to have ongoing implications for Aboriginal communities. We want to ensure the long-term sustainability of interventions also deals with Indigenous disadvantage.

It is no secret that the Greens have been critical of the nature of intervention, although the Greens are very supportive of federal government involvement and a significant increase in expenditure on addressing disadvantage. Actually looking at the impact of the intervention, the effectiveness of the policies, and the impact of state and territory government policies is also very important. We think it is broad enough to ensure that it goes beyond the existing emergency response to look at all the other issues that relate to the health, welfare, education and the security of children in regional and remote Indigenous communities. So although we think it should have been referred to the community affairs committee, we think that this is the next best option and we will be supporting referring it to a select committee. I would also like to signal that we will be supporting Senator Bartlett’s amendment. I move the Greens amendment to the motion in the terms circulated in the chamber yesterday:

Omit paragraph (1), substitute:

(1)   That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, be appointed to inquire into and report on:

(a)   the effectiveness of Australian Government policies following the Northern Territory Emergency Response, specifically on the state of health, welfare, education and law and order in regional and remote Indigenous communities;

(b)   the impact of state and territory government policies on the wellbeing of regional and remote Indigenous communities;

(c)   the health, welfare, education and security of children in regional and remote Indigenous communities; and

(d)   the employment and enterprise opportunities in regional and remote Indigenous communities.