Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson, Tammy Franks MLC, has condemned the Weatherill Labor Government’s attack on the autonomy of Indigenous governance on APY lands. Through the permanent extension of the highly controversial Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2014, amendments allow a Minister to sack the executive on a whim.
Existing provisions under the APY Land Rights Act provide for codified methods of dismissing or directing the Executive. The added provision gave the Minister the power to appoint an administrator and suspend the APY Board for any reason the Minister sees fit. Those provisions were to expire this year but now they have been put in permanently.
Ms Franks stated: “The changes to the Act made in 2014 gave the Minister extraordinarily broad powers to sack the Executive, at the time these powers were promised to be temporary. However without proper consultation the Weatherill Government today have extended this Ministerial ‘big stick’ in perpetuity.
“No rationale has been given and no evidence of these powers being necessary was furnished to the Parliament, now it has emerged that the Minister didn’t even bother to properly consult in the matter with the APY Executive prior to rushing another bill through the Parliament.
“It’s offensive and hypocritical to have a Country Cabinet on APY lands but not even bothered to talk to Anangu about these retrograde plans to strip away their autonomy. I expect they may not get such a warm welcome there in the future as a result.
“This is an indefensible attack on a democratically elected council I would not be surprised if it erodes any trust that the APY executive may have in the Minister or this State Government to deal with Anangu in a consultative, open and transparent way,” she concluded.
Ms. Franks was on APY lands last week and feedback there indicated that there had been no meaningful consultation on this matter.