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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 4 Hansard (26 March) . .

Page.. 1193..

A basic acknowledgement that the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are and will continue to be observed, respected and upheld is an essential gesture that will facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples taking a greater leadership role in building stronger communities and improving relationships with the broader community and the government. An acknowledgement of the ancient and enduring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural connections and relationships will help to generate engagement and investment in initiatives aimed at realising and giving effect to the equal inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT.

The amendments are not intended to confer or create real or intellectual property rights over the expressions or manifestations of that cultural heritage, as regulation of those property rights is a matter for the commonwealth. If such rights are claimed, they must be claimed and exercised in accordance with the processes set out under the relevant commonwealth law. But these amendments acknowledge that the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are a defining part of their identity.

Other rights in the Human Rights Act, including the right to recognition and equality before the law and the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief as well as freedom of expression, already support the right to hold and develop these distinct cultural identities. So the amendments properly provide formal recognition of the existence and continuing contribution of the cultural heritage of these first peoples to the Canberra region.

Making this amendment to our own Human Rights Act, one of the foundational documents of the ACT legal and justice system, will therefore greatly support the ACT government's reconciliation action plans and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice partnership. It is also consistent with the recommendations of the commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner's Social Justice and Native Title Report 2014, which recommended that the Australian government engage with the national implementation strategy to give effect to the UN declaration.

The bill represents another positive progression in the ACT rights dialogue, and I remain hopeful that it will continue to lay the foundation for meaningful, respectful and inclusive engagement with educators, children and young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

Mr Gentleman, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

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