Stolen Generations Compensation

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:40:31): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on the topic of a stolen generations compensation scheme.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As the minister would be aware, before this chamber we have had many debates on an Aboriginal stolen generations reparations or compensation scheme. We have seen two Bills brought to this place: one the subject of an inquiry, the second passed by this chamber over a year ago. In recent days, the Leader of the Opposition has reintroduced the Bill that passed in this chamber into the lower house.

I note that in comments in InDaily a Labor caucus senior figure was quoted as saying that the party is right to take the view that a compensation scheme would open the floodgates for further claims and that ‘there are no votes in it’. I ask the minister: does he agree with this view that there are no votes in a stolen generations compensation scheme, and will we soon see the Government act on this issue?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:41 :50 ): I thank the honourable member for her question and her ongoing and considerable interest in this matter. I know she has discussed this with me on quite a number of times, and I appreciate that. I am not going to comment on unidentified sources purporting to hold views; it’s not something I’m going to do. What I will do is again place on the record that this a very important issue and one that a great deal of work has been done on by members opposite and by crossbenchers.

I know yesterday on the ABC and today in InDaily, the Premier indicated that our policy work on this issue as a government is well advanced, and I am pleased that I continue to meet with and discuss these issues with both of those affected by past actions, and I have had a number of very productive meetings with the shadow minister in relation to this matter. The Premier has indicated that the government policy on this will be a package which is beyond just individual compensation but also, importantly, deals with community reparations.

Yesterday, the Premier’s comments were echoed by the Deputy Premier, who also said in relation to the stolen generations compensation and reparations, ‘We’re really down to the point where we’re discussing what the fine-grain detail of that solution looks like and how it can be implemented in a way that’s not unnecessarily burdensome or legalistic.’ This is an important policy that builds on work that’s already being done, and I acknowledge that this parliament led by, I think, premier Dean Brown at the time was the first state government to apologise in 1997, and in 2008 the federal parliament similarly apologised.

An honourable member: The premier was John Olsen.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Was it? Are you sure?

The Hon. R.I. Lucas interjecting:

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: In 1997, as the Hon. Rob Lucas points out, the premier was John Olsen and the relevant minister was Dean Brown. In any event, I applaud the former Liberal government for taking that stand, as the former Labor federal government has done also. I know that there are numerous views throughout the community and those directly affected on the most appropriate ways these past injustices can be rectified. As I have said before in this place, I have appreciated the number of conversations that I have had and the ones that I am continuing to have as we bring together that policy work.

As I said, I have met with the shadow minister a number of times on this and I continue to work through some of the issues in coming to a final policy on exactly how a scheme might work, and I thank the shadow minister for taking a bipartisan role in this. Regardless of what others choose to do, this is certainly not an issue I am going to play politics on, it is far too important for that. I will continue to work collaboratively to make sure that we have the best possible policy response to these issues.

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