Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Aboriginal Affairs

The Hon. T.T. NGO (14:25): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the minister update the council on progress made in delivering the government's Aboriginal Affairs election commitments?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:25): I thank the honourable member for his question and his interest in this area, and his stewardship over many years, with breaks on occasion, of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee.

I am pleased that we have delivered on a number of commitments in Aboriginal affairs. I thank the members of this chamber, in particular, for their consideration of the Nunga Court bill that has now passed this chamber and will become law, as I believe it has passed the other chamber as well. But today I particularly want to talk about the election commitment in terms of the state-based implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I know there have been questions on aspects of this from a number of members, substantive questions and supplementaries.

The three key elements of the Uluru Statement are Voice, Treaty, Truth, and this government had set out to implement that in a sequenced approached. In the South Australian context we have approached these areas of reform, as many of those who were involved in the dialogues that led up to the Uluru Statement were involved in the convention at Uluru and have written and thought about this matter very substantively since.

Of the three elements of the Uluru Statement, the sequencing that has most commonly been suggested is to start with Voice. Since our election, we have appointed the South Australian Commissioner for First Nations Voice, Mr Dale Agius, who has led an extensive first round of consultation with First Nations communities right throughout South Australia between August and October of this year. I am informed that there were in excess of 30 community consultation sessions, with many hundreds of individual Aboriginal people engaged in those consultation sessions.

The commissioner went as far north as the APY, as far west as Ceduna, as far south as Mount Gambier, and to many points in between. The commissioner has since released his engagement report, on 9 November, outlining key insights and feedback, and this report has been publicly released and is available on the internet. The commissioner's engagement and findings have informed the development of a draft bill, the First Nations Voice bill, which has been publicly released for further consultation. Commissioner Agius has now commenced a second round of face-to-face engagements with communities on the draft bill, and will be continuing that up until mid-December.

The commissioner has visited many places already to consult on the draft bill, including Murray Bridge, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Leigh Creek and, I believe just in the last couple of days, Coober Pedy. People from right around South Australia can also have their views heard via the YourSAy website. That feedback is open until 6 January—for feedback on the YourSAy website. Once that has happened, we will work to look at the submissions that have been received and the views that have been put forward during the consultation, to make changes as necessary to the bill, and I can inform the chamber that it is intended that there will be a bill before parliament very early in the next sitting year.