Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

ALP wishy washy on land ownership for Indigenous Australians

Today’s announcement by the Australian Labor Party that they would not support the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 was not surprising.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said the Labor Party remain wishy washy on the real reform needed on land ownership for indigenous Australians.

"The details of the reforms were announced in November last year and Labor has had plenty of time to arrive at a view about the amendments, but now they want further consultations. In fact these amendments have been the subject of intensive consultation and three public reviews over nine years," Mr Brough said.

"In fact most of the amendments come directly from a joint submission by the Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government and the 99 year leasing provisions that Senator Evans is so nervous about were in put forward by the Northern Territory Labor Government.

"The township leasing scheme is voluntary and leasing of a township cannot proceed without the approval of the local traditional owners. The amendments improve opportunities and maintain the fundamentals of the Act like inalienability of the land title and traditional owner right of veto on developments.

"More Parliamentary Committees will not raise any more issues that have not been discussed ad nauseum for years – its time to once and for all give Indigenous Australians a genuine shot at real land ownership. If Labor don’t have a policy on this after 10 years, they are not going to have one in the next few months.

"These are hard decisions aimed at breaking welfare dependencies and providing real opportunity to participate in the market economy and start the long term process of allowing indigenous Australians to share in the prosperity the rest of the country enjoys.

"Yet again, Labor is baulking at the tough decisions and going weak at the knees.