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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2108

Indigenous Affairs

Senator STOKER (Queensland) (14:50): My question is for the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Scullion. Can the minister please update the Senate on the government's support for native title holders? How is this government supporting native title holders to manage their land and, importantly, pursue economic development for their communities?

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:51): I thank Senator Stoker for the question and acknowledge that this is her first question in this place, and I think it's fitting, given this is such an important question for all Queenslanders, because it is, in fact, about that most important issue of jobs and growth.

All governments should be supporting jobs and growth for all Australians. That should include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. I'm pleased to advise that this government is supporting native title holders to deliver the very best outcome to their rights for land and seas. We must recognise and respect that native title holders must be empowered themselves to use their land to meet their aspirations. We recognise that native title holders are increasingly where the focus must be. That's why we are providing, for the first time, funding directly to native title holders to help them manage their land and participate in development. The $20.4 million in funding is one of the many measures that is being rolled out under the north Australian white paper.

I take this opportunity, as a resident of north Australia, to thank Senator Canavan for his work, for the focus he has brought to northern Australia and for the great gains we are making as a government. Northern Australian reforms are ensuring that native title holders have a seat at the table to pursue economic developments and opportunities to do what they want to do. This week, Senator Canavan and I will be meeting with the Indigenous reference group of the Northern Australian ministerial forum to discuss how we can make sure Indigenous people take advantage of this government's focus on northern Australia.

Since 2011, the number of Indigenous Australians with a job has increased by over 23 per cent. We are supporting around 60 jobs a day for Indigenous Australians through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and almost 140,000 jobs for Indigenous Australians through the mainstream employment programs. A key to this is making sure Indigenous Australians, including native title holders, are empowered to pursue their economic development. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Stoker, a supplementary question.

Senator STOKER (Queensland) (14:53): Senator Scullion, how does this approach support jobs for Indigenous Australians?

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:53): This government is strongly of the view that native title holders should be supported to pursue their own aspirations, because we know that the empowerment of native title holders leads to opportunities for economic development and better outcomes for Indigenous communities. All you have to do is look at the proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. The native title holders, the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners, voted 294 to one in favour of the Indigenous land use agreement to facilitate rail construction to the Carmichael mine. I'm very pleased that Adani have now committed to an Indigenous employment target of 7.5 per cent. They've committed to $250 million for Indigenous business development and contracting and a further $7.5 million Indigenous training package that includes a target of 10 per cent of Indigenous trainees. I'm really looking forward to working with Adani and local Indigenous leaders to maximise employment in that region. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Stoker, a final supplementary question.

Senator STOKER (Queensland) (14:54): What is the government doing to address threats to the economic development of native title holders and Indigenous communities?

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:54): Unfortunately, the biggest threats are the Leader of the Opposition's desire to be loved by environmentalists in inner-city seats who care nothing about jobs for regional Australia and the hypocrisy of those activists who claim to be giving voice to Indigenous Australians, except in those circumstances when those same people want to do something with their land that activists disagree with.

We in the government will continue to ensure we focus on the future of the Indigenous jobseekers who will benefit from this project. The last word should go to traditional owner Patrick Malone—he is one of the signatories to the ILUA—who said:

Green activists are happy to maintain the status quo for the Wangan and Jagalingou people of low socio-economic outcomes while they enjoy jobs, education, housing etc and I guess electricity generated by coal fired power stations. They want to stop the mine at all costs and unfortunately that cost will be borne greatest by the Wangan and Jagalingou people.