Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 22 June 2016.)
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:28 :24 ): I rise on behalf of the Greens today to speak to the government's Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2016. Of course, this Bill seeks to amend the APY Land Rights Act. What I would say is that this Bill has been put as priority number one by this government for this week, this NAIDOC week. Today, for the third time, for the third sitting day in a row, we have a red arrow on our running sheet indicating that the government wishes to push this through today to a final vote. I find that offensive. I find the process of demanding that we pass, yet again, another APY land rights amendment Bill through this place in a rushed manner offensive.
I commend the opposition and the crossbenchers for refusing to take that course of action. We will debate this Bill and, indeed, the Greens will support many parts of this Bill, but we will debate this Bill in the way that it should be debated: with consultation and with consideration.
The Greens will support sections of this Bill. We will support the intention to create an electoral system for the APY Executive Board that will see half of those elected being men and half of those elected being women. We will support that. That is no surprise in this piece of legislation before us today. It was consulted upon prior to the previous piece of legislation being rushed through the parliament, initiated by that Layton-led review. It has been consulted on in several rounds and in many consultations, and I commend the government for that, that this feature of the bill is supported by those stakeholders who are most affected and indeed by the Greens.
The Greens would love to see this place mandate fifty-fifty representation for men and women. Indeed, the Greens have one male and one female in this place so we do have what the government here aspires to for Anangu.
The Hon. S.G. Wade: Two males.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens.
The Hon. S.G. Wade: No, but he said you were a male earlier.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Indeed. Thank you, Mr Wade, for the clarification that previously today, in question time in this place, I was referred to both by another woman's name and as a male. That is because females in this place are in the minority and not seen as the standard.
The Hon. S.G. Wade: Gender normative, it's called.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Thank you for your interventions there, Hon. Mr Wade. I note that the last time we debated this Bill I asked that it be titled the 'APY land rights intervention act', so offensive was the process around the last piece of legislation. I think that last piece of legislation needs to be revisited as we debate this bill. That last piece of legislation that we supported in this place, that indeed the Greens and the crossbenchers opposed, gave the minister the absolute ability for any reason that the minister saw fit to dismiss the executive board of APY and appoint an administrator. That, of course, was subject to the opposition moving a sunset clause on that provision.
Indeed, the Greens would have had a sunset clause of 12 months, but that did not win the day. The numbers were there for a sunset clause of some three years on that provision. The Greens say that that provision should never have been supported and needs to be removed as we debate this bill. It never had the consent of the APY. It was not consulted upon as we brought this piece of legislation to this place, and it should not be there. There should be due process. We are here with the bill saying that this is the way for good governance. This is a model that this chamber should therefore also adopt.
We will also raise our concerns about the changes to the way the conciliator is treated. The conciliator, as a way to resolve disagreements in this piece of legislation, is something that the green support. It is something that the Greens raised some several ministers ago when the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee kept receiving complaints from Anangu about things that were happening on the lands. In one committee meeting I asked, 'Why don't you go to the conciliator rather than us because the conciliator in the APY Land Rights Act is the person designed to resolve these disputes' to discover, at that time, that a conciliator had not been appointed by a succession of Weatherill Labor Government Ministers. They had failed to appoint a conciliator under this Act.
That was, as I said then, a dereliction of their duties. It was a dereliction of their responsibility to ensure that there was good governance on the lands. Had there been a conciliator appointed under those various ministers I do not think we would have seen some of the cases that we saw hit the papers, particularly The Australian, leading to some discomfort and lack of consensus in decision‑making on the lands.
We support there being more than one conciliator, and we support moves to clarify that that is able to be done under this act. That is how it is operating now. The wording changes, to ensure that that is clear, are supported by the Greens. What is not supported is the way the government intends that a conciliator will be able to be appointed and able to be removed.
Again, the Minister seeks to be able to remove the conciliator for any reason that the Minister sees fit; again, the conciliator has a change in the wording to say that it may only be appointed under this government. Well, we know already that we cannot trust this government to appoint conciliators unless we ensure that they must appoint conciliators, so the Greens will be moving to ensure that the conciliator is as independent as possible, that that process is as consulted with APY and that, once appointed, should a conciliator be dismissed by a minister, the parliament will have some regard to and review of that process.
I also note that when I moved a sunset clause on the previous, I believe, offensive increase of the powers of the Minister over the APY Executive Board, to dismiss them for any reason the Minister saw fit without due process, without appropriate reasons, at the time I sought advice on that sunset clause the Greens would have moved. That advice noted that should my amendment for the 12 month sunset clause have been successful, I would have needed to come back with the following piece of legislation within that 12 months of the sunset clause to ensure that when the sunset clause expired it addressed what I believe is probably still an issue for this piece of legislation: that is, that with the sunset being placed in section 13O(1), after the first anniversary it would have been (or indeed after the third anniversary, under the successful opposition amendment) that the practical effect of that sunset clause would be that the Minister would have no power to suspend the board after that date.
However, what would not have happened, and what I understand still does not happen, is that we revert to the previous reasons for suspension and the previous processes for suspension then applying. I was advised at the time, by parliamentary counsel, that it would be necessary to bring back another piece of legislation to enact a new section 13O(1), either restoring what was currently the case prior to December 2014, doing away with that sunset clause, or enacting some new scheme.
The Greens will seek to enact a scheme similar to that which existed before December 2014. That is that the Minister, should they choose to go down the path of sacking an APY Executive Board and appointing an administrator, would need reasons to do so and would have to follow a process, that the Minister would not be able do such a thing for any reason they saw fit but would have to provide reasons and would have to follow a process. That is good governance, that is due process, that is something we should be modelling here and ensuring is afforded to those on the APY Executive Board.
I certainly support changes that would enable the election of those to the APY Executive Board not just to be gender balanced but, indeed, for votes to be cast by those who are not on the community of the day of the election. We will see changes in this bill to the current electoral system. I have some concerns and I will raise questions—and I put the minister on notice of that now—about the way the electoral role will operate. I ask the minister whether we can be provided with the number of people currently on the APY land rights electoral role as opposed and compared to the state electoral roll—
The Hon. K.J. Maher interjecting:
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Okay, that is alright; I would like these things on the record, minister. Everyone is having a bit of a chat to me today, but that is fine. I have some concerns as well about the wording of the three-month residential requirements and how that will operate. I think perhaps that by putting things on the record some of that lack of clarity I have at the moment, and that many others in the community might have, about how it will operate, will be assuaged.
The Greens appreciate that this Minister has been far more proactive and far more interested in APY than any minister in my time in this place, which is since 2010. I commend the Minister for much of his work, but I say, 'Please do not rush processes.' When we rush processes we make mistakes that have unintended consequences; I think even with that small one about the sunset clause I possibly uncovered something that I would certainly like a response on from government, and ensure that we are not back in the next 12 months to fix yet another part of this act that should have been addressed in this particular debate.
In this, the NAIDOC week, I look forward to good governance on the APY lands. I look forward to a debate here that is informed and that has input from the appropriate stakeholders, both those who are Anangu and those from the legal profession, those who know about the electoral systems and can advise us to make sure that we get this right the very first time so that we do not come back here in 12 months' time trying to fix up yet another process, and so that where there are disputes we have a very healthy and robust conciliation system to address those so that this parliament does not hear sides of various stories in our committee processes.
I look forward to prosperity and a positive future for all on the APY lands. I think this is a step in the right direction. With those few words, I commend much of the Bill, and look forward to a very detailed and robust committee stage.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.