Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
[My question is for the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. In your address-in-reply to the administrator in the last sittings you committed to a sub-committee of Cabinet that will feature all the bush and Indigenous members of parliament. You said it would provide advice on a treaty with NT first nations on land and sea.” When do we start?]
Madam Speaker I appreciate the question for the member. I have had conversations with my department about getting the sub-committee set up. I have had conversations with my two co-chairs and the Members for Namatjira and Arnhem about the terms of reference for the committee. We have set the agenda around treaty land, sea and local decision making which is really important.
I expect the committee to be up and running in the New Year about how we handle these issues. I believe there has been a very strong message sent about treaty not just through yourself, Member for Nhulunbuy, though I have recognised and respect the work you have done in that space.
When I was at the full land council meeting for the Central and Northern Land Councils plus a representation from the Anindilyakwa Land Council at freedom day, they raised that at the end of all the speeches, on a very hot day. They said, ‘Will you, Leader of the Opposition’—as I was at the time—‘support us in a conversation around treaty and moving towards a treaty?’ and I said, ‘Yes. We will do that.’
We are creating that subcommittee of Cabinet which is placing it very seriously at the centre of government to make sure we are actively listening around what to do.
That is the stage I am at as Chief and as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. It is not for me to dictate terms of treaty or anything like that. It is a listening stage at the moment for the different forms of treaty that people around the Territory are advocating for listening on how to work together to advance.
Other people around the country are discussing treaty as well and there is also the debate around constitutional recognition. I have said very strongly that I see no reason why we cannot have two conversations; some people will be putting that it is one or the other; I think we can have a conversation around constitutional recognition and a conversation around treaty. One does not prevent the other in any way, shape or form.
Constitutional recognition is happening federally and supportive of that and then how can we advance treaty locally? I think that is something we can do as a jurisdiction rather than tying ourselves into a potential federal national debate about treaty. Let us lead by example; I think that is what we can do. In terms of that subcommittee up and running in the New Year and actively listening around how do we reach a treaty in the Northern Territory and I thank you for the question.