Legislative Council: Thursday, November 03, 2022


Parliamentary Committees

Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee: Report 2021-22

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:28): I move:

That the 2021-22 annual report of the committee be noted.

The Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee's functions include reviewing the operation of the three acts, the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 2013, the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Land Rights Act 1981. The committee can also inquire into matters affecting the interests of the traditional owners of the lands. It also looks into the manner in which the lands are being managed, used and controlled. Other functions include inquiring into matters concerning the welfare of Aboriginal people.

The committee has traditionally visited many Aboriginal lands and communities. It has also held strong relationships with the Aboriginal landholding statutory authorities. Engaging with representatives from those communities and statutory authorities allows the committee to be updated on current issues. During the 2021-22 year, the committee attempted to travel to various Indigenous communities. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic limited the committee's ability to travel to remote Aboriginal areas during this time.

The committee continued with its three active inquiries during the reporting period. These were housing, governance and heritage. The Aboriginal housing inquiry concluded with the tabling of a final report on 26 October 2021. The committee concentrated on receiving evidence in its Aboriginal governance inquiry for the majority of the 2021 calendar year. This inquiry into governance standards in Aboriginal community-controlled organisations was referred to the committee by the then Premier the Hon. Steven Marshall MP in February 2021.

After receiving oral evidence from a further 13 witnesses in the reporting period, the committee tabled an interim governance inquiry report on 26 October 2021. The tabled report contained nine recommendations, which were responded to at the state level by the then Minister for Planning and Local Government, the Hon. Josh Teague MP. At the commonwealth level the committee also received a response from the former federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Kevin Wyatt MP.

On 15 February 2021 the committee resolved to inquire into Aboriginal heritage issues. This included inquiring into the operations of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 and looking at how Aboriginal heritage is managed in this state. This is particularly relevant given the recent federal parliament's joint committee inquiry into the destruction of Indigenous heritage sites at the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia. That inquiry led to a renewed call for reforming Aboriginal cultural heritage protection across all Australian jurisdictions.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the previous committee members: the Hon. Terry Stephens MLC, who was the Presiding Member; the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC; Mr Eddie Hughes MP; the Hon. Kyam Maher MLC; Mr Steve Murray MP, the former member for Davenport; and Mr Adrian Pederick MP, the member for Hammond.

After the March 2022 state election a new committee was established in May 2022. The committee decided to readvertise both the governance inquiry and the heritage inquiry, and allowed for new submissions to be received until 22 July 2022. The committee is hoping to conclude the Aboriginal governance inquiry by the end of this calendar year.

The committee focused on advancing the Aboriginal heritage inquiry after the 2022 state election. As of 30 June 2022 the committee had received 33 written submissions for this inquiry. We received oral evidence from a further six witnesses by 30 June 2022. The committee is continuing to receive evidence in this important inquiry into Aboriginal heritage.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders who spoke with the committee and made submissions to our three inquiries. We especially thank those who travelled to Adelaide to speak with us. I also thank the current members of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee: the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC; the Hon. Stephen Wade MLC; the member for Giles, Mr Eddie Hughes MP; the member for Heysen, Mr Josh Teague MP; and the member for Newland, Ms Olivia Savvas MP. I also convey a special thank you to Ms Lisa Baxter for fulfilling two roles as acting executive officer and research officer. Her hard work, flexibility and support during the year was greatly appreciated. I commend the report to the council.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. L.A. Curran.