Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (April 2010)

Published: April, 2010

CLC director David Ross speaks to the media after the Senate inquiry.

Government efforts on RDA break election promise

The CLC told a Senate inquiry in March that  the Government’s Bill to restore the Racial Discrimination Act does nothing to improve the most draconian measures of the NTER and continues the spirit of bad faith embedded in that legislation. 

CLC Director David Ross said the NTER legislation remains discriminatory despite the Government’s Bill to remove clauses which exclude the operation of the RDA.

“Reinstating the Racial Discrimination Act was an election promise to the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. This Bill does nothing to keep that promise.

“Thanks to a good old smoke and mirrors approach to drafting legislation, because its newer, the NTER legislation still prevails over the Racial Discrimination Act and renders it impotent,” he said.

“There was one very simple solution that the government has avoided while it has deliberated for two years – insert a simple clause to ensure the Racial Discrimination Act prevails over the NTER. That is what we are asking for.

“Discriminatory measures including  the retention of the business management area powers, controls on government funded computers on Aboriginal land, the retention of the Australian Crime Commission’s additional powers and the removal of the permit system/creation of a public right of access to Aboriginal land will continue to survive the Government Bill, and will not be open to challenge under the RDA.

“The Government’s position on five year leases is one of the most hated elements of the NTER and the Government has sought to put them beyond the challenge of the RDA by calling them special measures.

“There continues to be no evidence of any benefit by acquiring the five year leases.

“Initially it was argued it would improve the housing situation. After the dismal record in this area since then we now know that to be untrue.

“It has gone to extraordinary lengths to deliver a tricked up NTER that seeks to convince people it is something it’s not.

In regard to other elements of the NTER before the committee the CLC believes that income management should be subjected to national public debate if it is to be enacted nationally rather than cloaked within this legislation.