The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 14:49 :58 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on the topic of Stolen Generations compensation.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As members are well aware this is National Reconciliation Week. Indeed, we should be very proud of our role in this past week, also marking the anniversary of the 1997 apology by Dean Brown to the Stolen Generations, the first in the country. We know there has been a bill passed in the council that was supported by all but Labor elected members for stolen generations compensation. Obviously, I introduced a Bill that went to a committee inquiry that was supported by all members of that inquiry by the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee.
In response to questions in the previous week's sitting, the minister advised the Hon. Terry Stephens, through the processes of question time, that he would be conducting meetings and that he would be coming back with some statements about that. I ask the Minister: what concerns does the government continue to hold with regard to a Stolen Generations reparations or compensation scheme? How are those meetings progressing? In what time frame will the Government be making a statement on this issue?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:51 :26 ): I thank the honourable member for her question and her continuing interest in this matter and the efforts she has gone to to progress this matter in the past and also her continuing efforts to inquire about this and keep the matter alive at the moment. As I have previously said, I have been having a range of meetings, the most recent one, I think, the week before last, organised by the ALRM with a number of their clients who have been affected by past forced removals. That was a meeting with about 25 or 30 members of the stolen generations at Tauondi College. I want to place on the record my thanks to the ALRM for organising that meeting. It was very instructive to me, as a minister, to hear a range of issues.
There are a number of issues that are of concern that will form the basis of the next steps that are taken in relation to righting some of the wrongs of the past, in terms of first removal of Aboriginal children. Some of the areas that were of concern from that meeting, and from other meetings I have had, include: better recognition and acknowledgement of what happened; a better understanding of the history of these issues, particularly through education. As the honourable member has mentioned, there are bills that have been before the council before. Individual compensation is an issue; better access to information, both held by government and by churches and other organisations; issues such as public recognition, memorials, healing gardens and other things; and also, about what changes to make in future policy to make sure that what has happened in the past does not happen in the future.
I will still be consulting further on what the next steps are. In the coming months, when there are more decisions about what those next steps are, I can assure members who are interested in this matter that I will talk to them. I haven't got a finite time frame on when there will be decisions about what those next steps are, but I can assure members that I will keep them informed as we go forward.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 14:37 :49 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing to the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills questions on the topic of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music at the Elder Conservatorium.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I have recently been made aware of a memorandum that has been sent from Professor Jennie Shaw, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, to all academic staff at the Elder Conservatorium of Music and cc'd too many others, dated 6 May, which states in part:
As stated in my email dated 20 April 2015 titled Notice to Staff of a Draft Change Proposal I outlined the catalysts for proposed organisational change to the Elder Conservatorium of Music as it has:
‘….Not been able to meet its allocated budget in recent years. There is now added pressure with the State Government's removal of VET funding effective from the commencement of 2015 which has resulted in the cessation of the VET program , as well as the diploma courses no longer being viable in terms of both costs , resourcing and insufficient student numbers …'
It goes on to say:
It is no longer feasible for the university to offer the current stand alone Diploma Programs from 2016. The programs not being offered in 2016 are the Diploma in Aboriginal Studies in Music, Diploma in Instrumental Music, Advanced Diploma in Aboriginal Studies and Music, and the Foundation Year Program. Current students will be given the opportunity to complete their studies within candidature times.
The VET funded positions will be disestablished from approximately 1 July 2015 as the VET program within the Conservatorium is no longer available due to State Government funding ceasing from 31 December 2014.
The centre's three stand-alone programs will no longer be offered from 2016.
It summarises that:
There will be job losses as a result of the proposed changes to the removal of VET funding and the cessation of diploma programs.
It also states that:
There will be a reduction in the number of staff within CASM due to the cessation of the three programs.
It goes on to say that indeed this will definitely see the loss of staff. My questions to the minister are:
1. What communications or representations have been made to or by the minister with the university with regard to these changes?
2. Did these communications, if any, include consideration of restoring the VET funding that was withdrawn from the end of 2014 and, if so, why was that course of action not taken?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:40 :21 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, I think in this place some time ago there were questions around the Elder Conservatorium and funding in relation to that. I do not have the details in front of me but if I recall they received some base VET funding, and they had for some time received additional interim funding. My understanding, if I recall correctly, was that it was to enable them to design and develop a business case for the ongoing future of that particular course. My understanding is that they were unable to do that and the interim funding came to an end.
However, to the best of my knowledge, they are still receiving that core VET funding. That is the only information that I can recall at this point in time. I am happy to look further into the matter and bring back what information I can. Basically, training and education providers determine the level of demand for a particular course and curriculum, and they develop a business case for that and determine whether it is viable or not for them to continue, and it sounds as if this is what has occurred. As I said, I do not have any details in front of me but I am happy to take that away and bring back whatever information I can.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:20 :05 ): I address my question, on the topic of the APY lands and the upcoming election for the APY Executive, to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, and I seek leave to make a brief explanation.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Yesterday in the InDaily online publication, in the article by Bension Siebert, it was reported that the shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs and reconciliation, Dr McFetridge, has called on the minister to suspend the APY elections, due under the act in May, for at least 12 months and appoint an administrator, without sacking the executive board. My question to the minister is: is that legal; is that possible under the act; and do you have any intentions of changing the act within the next day, given the electoral commissioner has already issued the election dates?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 15:21 :04 ): I thank the honourable member for her question and her demonstrated continuing interest in these matters. It is a very important question, and I have had discussions with the honourable member about these matters in the last few weeks. As many would know, the APY Land Rights Act requires an election of the executive board to occur within three months after the third anniversary of the previous election. The previous election was held on 28 February 2012, which means an election is due to be held before the end of May this year.
As I have previously informed this place, between late 2013 and early 2014 a review of the APY Act was undertaken focusing on options for more contemporary governance and accountability. The review, in particular, covered the current election system including electorates and the composition and capacity of the executive board.
The review panel, chaired by the Hon. Dr Robyn Layton, consulted broadly with Anangu communities across the APY lands and with the executive board. The recommendations in the final report included both changing the electorates and the composition of the executive board to ensure both gender balance on the board and a better proportional representation of all Anangu across the lands.
I was asked in the last sitting week a question by the Hon. Stephen Wade about whether the Layton review constituted a review under the act. This might be an opportune time to indicate that I am advised that review did meet the requirements of the review provisions as outlined in section 9(8) of the APY Land Rights Act. So, the honourable member can take that as a response to the question I took on notice in the last sitting week.
I have met and had discussions with members of the APY executive board about this matter. I have also received a letter previously from the APY executive board requesting elections be held as they would in due course in May. I am also advised that my department has been in contact with the electoral commissioner about the APY election. I recently received a letter from the electoral commissioner outlining her intention to hold the elections on 25 May 2014, so I have taken advice from the APY Executive.
There has been correspondence from the electoral commissioner. I have had a number of discussions with the department and many people, including members here and in the other place who have an interest in this matter, and it is my intention that the interests of APY and all Anangu are best served by holding an election as scheduled in May this year. This will be on the basis—as in all the discussions I have had—that we will be considering later this year changes that reflect the Layton review recommendations and are implementing a new system and the intention is that fresh elections will be held sooner than the next three years after that.
In relation to the very specific questions of the honourable member, I will take it on notice to check that I am correct, but I think it is the case that if an administrator is appointed the board does not have its statutory functions as they have them now. I will double check that is correct, but that's, I think, the advice.