Page 3909 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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which made it more difficult for the committee and the Assembly to deliberate on the bill. Members will note that one of the committee’s recommendations focuses on this as an issue, recommending that proposers of bills prepare comprehensive, well-reasoned and evidenced explanatory statements. This is consistent with the findings of the scrutiny committee, which, in a number of its reports, has found explanatory statements wanting in terms of both legal argument and evidence.

The present committee’s report makes the point that the Assembly relies on the information provided to it in explanatory statements to help it deliberate on bills. Even if further information is sought and provided, it fulfils a requirement of due diligence that the explanatory statement should take all reasonable steps to present an accurate and balanced account of the bill in question. Obviously, the ability of the Assembly to deliberate on bills on the basis of good quality information presented in the explanatory statements is an important aspect of our system of government. In light of this, I ask the members of the Assembly, ministers in particular, to ensure that this recommendation meets with an appropriate and constructive response.

I would like to thank the committee secretary, Dr Brian Lloyd, for his usual thorough, professional and patient approach to the task of providing support to the committee. I thank the members of the committee, Dr Bourke, Mrs Jones and Ms Porter, for their contribution. Also, thanks to all the witnesses and submitters for their contributions over the course of the inquiry. I commend the report to the Assembly.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (5.17): I very much welcome the committee’s recommendation that the ACT investigate and consider the introduction of legislation similar to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. Whilst the recognition of native title since Mabo has been a positive development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, it is not enough to do justice to the connection to land of many traditional owners around the country. The value of traditional owner settlement legislation is that claimants can get solid outcomes without having to climb the legal mountain of establishing native title.

Mick Dodson has noted the irony that those most dispossessed by colonisation are the least likely to meet the continuous connection test for native title recognition. Instead, traditional owner settlement legislation is up to the initiative of clans and the negotiating government to secure a settlement that works best for them. It is heartening to see bipartisan support for the Victorian legislation from each of the Brumby, Napthine and Andrews governments. Indeed, the landmark settlement of the Dja Dja Wurrung people’s claims in 2013 showed the willingness of then Premier Napthine’s government to engage enthusiastically with the process.

Traditional owner settlement legislation in the ACT could provide a valuable third way of recognising the connection to land of traditional owners in the territory, and in doing so make a strong contribution to advancing reconciliation. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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