Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Racial Discrimination Act to be restored in the Northern Territory

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health & Regional Services Delivery and Member for Lingiari

The Australian Government has delivered on its commitment to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA) in the Northern Territory.

The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act) Bill2009, which passed the Senate last night, repeals all Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) laws that suspend the operation of the RDA.

This is an important achievement. The legislation removes what has been a blight on Australia’s reputation as the land of a fair go.

We recognise the importance of dignity and pride for Indigenous Australians.

The legislation also introduces a new non-discriminatory income management scheme to protect children and families and help disengaged youth.

The suspension of the RDA left Indigenous people feeling hurt, betrayed and less worthy than other Australians.

Re-instating the RDA restores dignity and helps Indigenous Australians to take ownership of their lives and to drive change in the Northern Territory.

It also ensures that measures under the NTER are sustainable and can be effective in the long term.

The RDA will apply to the new non-discriminatory income management scheme when it comes into effect on 1 July 2010, and will be fully restored for existing measures from 31 December 2010 once transitional arrangements are finalised and the reforms have been implemented.

Alcohol and pornography restrictions, five-year leases, community store licensing and law enforcement powers have been re-designed to more clearly be special measures that help Indigenous people in the NT achieve equal human rights.

The measures relating to publicly funded computers and the business management areas powers will remain unchanged.

The RDA and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination provide for special measures that help people of a particular race to enjoy their human rights equally with others.

All of these changes complement the Government’s closing the gap agenda, which is delivering unprecedented investment in education, health, housing, jobs and remote service delivery.

The measures were re-designed following extensive consultations with Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory.