Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


First Nations Voice to Parliament

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN (15:02): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs regarding the state First Nations Voice to Parliament.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN: On 17 November 2022, The Advertiser reported that there will be 40 members in the state First Nations Voice to Parliament. Out of those 40 members, 12 would be chosen by the 28 elected members from each region. My questions to the minister are:

1. Why are there 12 unelected members on the state First Nations Voice to Parliament and not only the 28 members who will be voted by the public?

2. Will the 40 members have an allowance or a salary, and how much will each member be paid per year?

3. How was the number 40 for the number of members on the state First Nations Voice to Parliament decided upon?

4. Who will vote for the state First Nations Voice to Parliament members, and will everyone get a ballot?

5. Will voters get a profile of each candidate, similar to council elections, so that they can get information about each candidate?

6. Will each candidate campaign at the same time as the state election campaign is occurring?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:03): I thank the honourable member for her question. I think I can answer most of the questions with a bit of an explanation about how the model that has been put forward works. I think the honourable member has misunderstood some of the elements of the model put forward, but I will be happy to explain that. I might preface this as well by saying that this is a draft bill to reflect the initial round of consultation but for a further round of consultation, so this is not necessarily what will be in a final bill.

Under the draft bill, what is proposed is a series of local First Nations Voices. I think I answered a question from the Hon. Stephen Wade where I went through this a couple of days ago, but I am happy to repeat it. Under the draft model put forward, there were a couple of different options about how boundaries might be drawn and how many regions there would be.

Under one model, there would be six regions, five across non-metropolitan South Australia and one region based on the Kaurna nation boundaries, the native title boundaries, to make six different electorates, if you like, altogether. Under that proposal, which is not in the bill but would be subject to regulation and subject to change over time if needed, there would be from each of the non-metropolitan regions three Aboriginal men and three Aboriginal women elected, who would form the local First Nations Voice.

The metropolitan region would have five First Nations men, including Torres Strait Islanders, and five First Nations women elected. That would give you six members in total from each of the five non-metropolitan areas, which would give you 30, and then 10 from the metropolitan, which creates a number of 40 in total, representing these six different local First Nations voices.

Each of these six local First Nations voices from within their three men and three women would elect chairs of the local First Nations Voice and one man and one woman as co-chairs, and those 12 would then form the statewide First Nations Voice. I think it is a misconception the honourable member has if there are 12 that are not elected.

Under this model, the 40 members of local First Nations voices will be directly elected by the Aboriginal community, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the electoral roll in those areas, and then from those that are directly elected they would select two of their own, a man and a woman, to represent each of those different areas, who would then form the statewide First Nations Voice. The 12 on the statewide Voice would be directly elected from their own regions and then selected from those who are elected to each region, under this model.

The honourable member asked a question in relation to payment. I think, again, it wasn't this week it was the previous sitting week, the Hon. Stephen Wade asked a very similar question about costs of a model which will be developed once a final model is settled upon, after the second round of consultation. With other appointed areas for committees or boards that a government appoints, there are often either sitting fees and travel allowances or yearly fees for those on those boards and committees. Even elected bodies like local governments have local councillors receiving payments in recognition of the work that they do and the time that is involved.

I think clause 40-something of the draft bill actually proposes—and this is something that was similar to the Aboriginal representative body that was proposed by the former government—that resources necessary to allow this body to function would be provided. Yes, it is anticipated there would be some form of remuneration for people elected to these positions and performing this function, as there are for other locally elected bodies, or indeed appointed bodies.