“This is a blatant attack on our rights for the benefit of Adani and the mining industry. These changes to the Native Title Act will have far-reaching implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country,” said Larissa Baldwin, Bundjalung woman and Co-Director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network.
“A McNair poll published this week found that 51% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not aware of possible changes to Native Title and 81% were concerned.
“Labor voted down the government’s bill a month ago on the basis that there had not been enough consultation. But still, nothing has changed, there has been no additional consultation on this bill.
“90% of respondents to the poll said that more consultation was needed about the changes before they should proceed
“The National Native Title Council and Glenn Kelly do not speak for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owner in this country. The Council only represents 25 Traditional Owner groups.
“At the recent Native Title Conference in Townsville many Traditional Owners voiced their concerns about these bodies misrepresenting their intentions, and said how they have lost their own voice on issues that impact them.
“There is no ‘consensus’ as George Brandis claimed in the Senate last night. The consultation period did not allow for any differing opinions on what should happen to this bill other than what the Queensland Resources Council had put forward.
“Senator Ian MacDonald has called it the ‘Adani Bill’ multiple times, and Bill Shorten even placed a call to Mr Adani telling him that he will ‘deal with’ Native Title. Make no mistake, this government has put the wishes of a multinational corporation over Indigenous human rights.
“Aboriginal people and Traditional Owners have a very important role to play in climate action in this country. We have the right to make decisions about what happens on our land and we take our responsibility to protect country seriously.
“The Native Title regime as it currently stands only gives us opportunity to negotiate. It hamstrings many Traditional Owner groups in their decision making process especially those who do not want fossil fuel companies on their land.
“The Native Title regime is broken because successive federal Governments have taken it apart piece by piece, weakening it like they did again today.
“Let there be no mistake, these changes are just the start of the government’s planned attack on Native Title and land rights.
“Our mob will continue to fight for our land rights so we can continue our duty as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to protect country,” concluded Ms Baldwin.
Larissa Baldwin is available for comment
The Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network is a branch of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Australia’s first youth-led network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fighting to protect country from climate change and fossil fuel extraction.