Business - Rearrangement

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (09:52): I want to read, for Senator Siewert's benefit, from a letter the National Native Title Council wrote to the Attorney on 5 May. In case Senator Siewert is not aware, I will quote from the second paragraph of the letter first, just to indicate who the Native Title Council are. The letter says: 'As you are aware, the National Native Title Council is the peak body and alliance of NTRBs and NTSPs from across the country. NTRBs and NTSPs themselves provide native title services to traditional owners, as set out in the Native Title Act. As such, NTRBs and NTSPs represent the overwhelming majority of the many traditional owners who are affected by the recent McGlade decision.'

The letter goes on at some length, and I am sure Senator Siewert has seen this letter, but I just want to quote this one simple paragraph. Page 3 of the letter says, 'The NNTC urges the parliament to consider and pass this bill as soon as possible.' As well as that, I remind the Senate that the Attorney met with 15 different native title councils involved in this issue on 27 April, and every single one of them agreed and urged that this legislation be passed.

I want to turn to the Labor Party, who are clearly playing games on this issue simply to try and solve the deep divide in the Labor Party between those who want Adani and those who do not. I speak particularly to the Queensland Labor senators: your Labor Party state government desperately wants this bill passed. Why? It means jobs for Indigenous people, it means Indigenous people will have their wishes respected and it means 10,000 jobs in Central and North Queensland, an area where unemployment is rife. Not often do I agree with the Queensland Labor government, and not often do I agree with Premier Palaszczuk, but in this instance she is absolutely correct. This is desperately needed for Queensland. It is essential for Queensland. I want the Queensland Labor senators here to stand up to the rest of their group, who want to delay this and hopefully join with the Greens in preventing Adani—that wonderful proposal which will mean real jobs for Indigenous people. That is why the local traditional owners in the Galilee Basin totally support this. They gave evidence before my committee, which had a very full one-day hearing on this.

On that, everybody who had an interest in this particular legislation came before that committee, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, and made their views known, and the committee made recommendations to support this. The support was unanimous, providing we addressed certain amendments which the Labor Party suggested and which were adopted by the government in a number of meetings. The committee has heard all the evidence and has read all the submissions. Sure, there are some that did not agree, mainly those that were sponsored by the Greens, who will do anything to stop any job in Australia. But this committee looked at the evidence very carefully, saw a couple of things that needed to be addressed and made recommendations accordingly, and the government took up those recommendations. I thank Senator Dodson and those in the Labor Party who have contributed to this.

But this refusal to sit on a Friday, just because Labor Party people might have parties to go to somewhere tomorrow, is outrageous. I hope that the Queensland Labor Premier has someone listening to this, and I hope she gets on the telephone and says to the Labor Party Queensland senators, 'Get real; get this passed,' because it is so important to the Queensland government, currently led by the Labor Party in Annastacia Palaszczuk. Please, Premier Palaszczuk, get onto your Labor senators from Queensland and make them sit tomorrow. (Time expired)

Back to List