Brandis mishandling delays Native Title Bill

The incompetence of George Brandis has today prevented important native title reforms being passed through the Parliament.

MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BRANDIS MISHANDLING DELAYS NATIVE TITLE BILL

 

The incompetence of George Brandis has today prevented important native title reforms being passed through the Parliament.

George Brandis had warning nearly two years ago that the upcoming McGlade court decision was an issue that needed to be dealt with. He took no action.

Now he and Senator Canavan are trying to argue that the bill they are putting to the Senate – which has been amended five times at late notice – is urgent. It doesn’t stack up.

If George Brandis had done the right thing, consulted properly on the proposed changes to the Native Title Act and fixed the flaws with the legislation early, any issues could have been sorted in a timely fashion, with any proposed changes clearly conveyed to native title holders.

Instead he has completely mishandled the whole process, refused to consult, repeatedly messed up amendments and repeatedly attempted to push things through at the last minute. Five separate changes have had to be made for the legislation to be workable, with the last only put forward late on Budget night.

Labor has confirmed with the government our support for the new amendments, and our willingness to pass the bill in the next sitting week. We will not allow the government to circumvent parliamentary process to make changes to the Native Title Act because George Brandis has messed up.

Make no mistake – it is George Brandis, not Labor, who has prevented this bill from becoming law.

The government is treating native title law like a plaything. It’s an insult to Australia’s Indigenous people, many of whose livelihoods depend on Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs).

This is from a government whose Prime Minister has pledged to “do things with, not to, Indigenous people”.

Labor is committed to the timely passage of this bill. But through the government’s incompetence, improper consultation and constant changes, it has put roadblocks in the way of a Senate vote today.

THURSDAY, 11 MAY 2017