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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1127

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (11:06): I move:

At the end of the motion, add “but in respect of the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee report by 8 May 2017”.

This bill is a very complex bill. It will make significant changes to native title. I have had a number of consultations with a number of people, many of whom support the concept of the changes, many of whom do not support the concept of the changes. I and a number of people have expressed concern about the rushed nature of the debate on these native title changes. In fact, the proposals for change had been made for quite a number of years before the court case that has now triggered the government's sense of urgency, which we think is more around the Adani mine in Queensland than any sincere desire to help address some of the ongoing issues about ILUAs—land-use agreements. So we think that these changes need a considerable period of time to allow consultation.

I, as I said, have been talking to a number of groups from around Australia and I clearly acknowledge there are groups that are in support of these changes and there are groups that are opposed to these changes and other people, who support the concept but who think that amendments need to be made. We need time to assess these changes. The government will probably stand up and say, 'You wanted to refer it to 27 March.' There was not agreement to that in the report; it went to 17 March. However, overnight and this morning, there has been increased concern raised with me. I think it needs much further consultation, to 8 May. That would allow everybody to have a look at these amendments, to actually understand the impacts of the amendments and whether in fact there needs to be amendments to the amendments or other things added to the bill.

This is a serious issue. The fact is these issues have been raised over a number of years. There has been a lack of action, an unwillingness to address these issues until suddenly it starts threatening mining in the resource industry. That is what is driving the government's overwhelming desire to rush this through now rather than allow a significant period of time to actually assess the impacts of very serious amendments of an already very complex piece of legislation. This will allow us to assess those amendments. I urge the chamber to acknowledge this is complex and to support changing the date so that we can have a thorough review through the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the changes to the Native Title Act.