Page 1424 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 6 May 2008

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Entrenched issues cannot be dealt with in a day, a month or a year, even with goodwill and even with good ideas, but we can build on what has already been achieved here in the territory, much of it shoulder to shoulder with Indigenous people themselves.

We have committed resources to initiatives such as the ACT Justice Centre that was established in 2004, Koori preschools, hearing and midwifery programs, child protection and foster care, the capital program for additional public stock for Indigenous housing, an Indigenous drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation facility, Indigenous traineeship programs, a youth detoxification support service and parental participation programs for children, teachers and the broader school community. But of course this work has in large part been undertaken in consultation with Indigenous leaders who, by default, have appointed themselves, who have taken on the mantle of leadership in the vacuum that has existed since the abolition of ATSIC regional councils.

The body we will create today will not be appointed by the government of the day; it will be chosen by the people it represents, consistent with the notion of self-determination. Late next month, it is my hope that Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in the territory will go to the polls to elect seven members. Then and every three years thereafter they will select from among members of their own community who will put their names forward for election. I believe the result will be a powerful partnership between black and white Canberra, a strong and enduring partnership between the government of the day, its agencies and the local Indigenous community. Together we will help create and deliver the policies and programs that over time will erode and then obliterate the gaps we have, as a nation, allowed to build up over two centuries between the life experience of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The government has noted the comments made by the scrutiny of bills committee in its report of 5 May. The committee’s comments do not warrant any government amendment to the bill. A response by the government to the committee’s report will be forwarded to the chair. I thank members for their contribution and support for what I believe is an important piece of legislation and commend the bill to the house.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.05): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 1466].

I have just, I think, ascertained that my amendment will receive the support of all members in this Assembly, and that is really a very great thing. I think it is wonderful that we are all supporting the bill in the first instance, because this is the kind of thing that can only work with full support across the whole Assembly. I am also really delighted that people support the idea of my amendment.

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