Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Legislation changes will further protect Indigenous children

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, will today introduce amendments to legislation as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

“These changes reflect emerging issues as well as a small number of technical improvements,” Mr Brough said.

The changes will be made by the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation) Bill 2007 and will include:

  • Amending the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to prohibit the provision of R 18+ television programs in prescribed areas of the Northern Territory;
  • Ensuring roadhouses, which act as community stores in a remote area, are properly treated as such and meet new licensing standards;
  • Extending to Land Councils the function of representing Aboriginal land owners in negotiations for five year leases in respect of community living areas;
  • Changes to allow the option of Defence Housing Australia to assist FaCSIA to deliver housing to remote Indigenous communities;
  • Changes to residential tenancies, where the Commonwealth has become the landlord as a result of the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

“These important amendments will further assist the National Emergency Response effort and the work of the Taskforce.

“The additional pornography provisions reflect feedback from community members themselves who have asked for further restrictions as well as requests from the NT Government.

“The changes to the tenancies provisions reflect the need to get on with the job of fixing houses unencumbered by the risk of legal provisions.

“The NT residential Tenancies Act normally imposes requirements on a landlord about the state of repair of premises. The Commonwealth will effectively be the landlord of often dilapidated housing stock and simply cannot comply with the requirements of the act in the short term while the housing repair and construction program is being implemented to bring housing to standard.

“The NT Government has not enforced the tenancies provisions on Aboriginal housing organisations to date.

“Today’s announcement is further evidence of the Howard Government’s continuing commitment to ensure appropriate measures are in place in the NT to assist the effort to protect children.

“In introducing the amendments, the Minister will report on the progress of the Emergency Response and outline emerging issues and developments in land tenure reform and engagement with Aboriginal people.”