Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

In relation to your government’s treaty policy what does ‘local authorities’ mean? For example, what powers will local authorities give to first nations to self-govern?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from the Member for Nhulunbuy. The process we are taking with treaty is a bit slower than that. That is jumping ahead. We are saying at the moment that we support the debate about treaty and a treaty, but we want to hear from people what their versions of treaty are. There are a significant number of people who have differences of opinion about what should or should not be in a treaty.

We will have that conversation which will build up to decision on what you are asking about. We will go through a consultative process that works up to what would or would not be in a treaty and how they are taking this approach in other places. There is conversation about whether you have a Territory-wide treaty or work on a more regional basis with different groups. It might be that treaty takes on different forms in different parts of the Territory.

It is something we have to work through which is why we will have that subcommittee of Cabinet to make it very serious, elevate it and have a strong conversation about what is in or out of the treaty. For me, it falls into a bundle of issues we have at the moment that are important for recognition and advancement of issues – Aboriginal justice agreement and strengthening local decision-making. There is a natural logic to get the local decision-making agenda into the treaty agenda. If you get the local decision-making settings right and trust the decisions locals make – which may take the form of an MOU or other types of agreements with locals on the ground – that then is a natural platform, potentially, into a strong treaty situation.

For me, there is a lot to work through in this area. I note and pay respect to the fact that there are a number of people with differences of opinion about what this means. The mistake I do not want to make is to stand in the white house of parliament, as the Chief Minister, and dictate this to people locally. We have to make sure we get this the right way around from the ground up and we are very much listening and taking on what people are saying, then acting. There will be a series of processes we will have to work through to get there. This has to be something that is in the hands of the people, where there is clear trust established about what it means and entails.
For me, it has to embody that recognition of local first people and have a practical outcome at the other end about how we deliver better services and provide better trust and decision making for locals, with greater control over their lives, which is the meaningful outcome we all want. That is the process we have to work through. We have to take people with us along that journey and we have to do it from a position of initially listening and saying, ‘We agree on treaty. Let us talk about the details and how we get it right’, not rush it and I do not sit here as Chief Minister in Darwin dictating the state of affairs.

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