Tuesday 20 June, 2017

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (12:03): I have been waiting a long time to speak on this, Deputy Speaker.

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask everyone to leave the chamber in silence so we can hear the member for Hartley.

Mr TARZIA: Thank you for your protection, Deputy Speaker. I rise today to speak in favour of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Suspension of Executive Board) Amendment Bill, and indicate that I am the lead speaker on this side of the chamber. The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Suspension of Executive Board) Amendment Bill was introduced to the other place on Wednesday 10 May 2017. What the bill does is seek to make permanent the reserve power of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation to suspend the APY Executive Board without recourse.

By way of background, this power of the minister, which is obviously a quite substantial power, to suspend the board in question was a significant part of the past changes to the APY Land Rights Act that were made in December 2014. I understand that the Greens at the time moved an amendment adding a 12-month sunset clause to the power, which was amended to three years by negotiation of the house, largely due to the fact that the Legislative Council did not really have that much confidence in the minister at the time. However, since those days there has been a succession of ministers. With the current minister, there has been a realisation that what we have now is actual stability up there and that these powers are of benefit to the ongoing, day-to-day, successful operation of competent governance in that part of the APY lands.

The bill removes the sunset clause that I was talking about, thereby legislating and codifying explicitly the minister's power to suspend the APY board without caveat. Given that the sunset clause in question is due to expire at the end of the year, if we do not act before then, it will return the legislation to what was in place prior to December 2014, which was that the minister was required to meet certain criteria before a suspension can be executed. We find this unacceptable.

We have seen in the past how, unfortunately, if these things are not controlled and there is not good accountability, there can be dysfunctionality at times. We want to make sure that the accountability is there and that the stability of the executive ensues, and so we believe that if the executive do have this condition then they are able to be brought into line, if the minister feels that it is necessary to act in a certain way. The bill gives the minister of the day a very valuable bargaining chip in dealing with the lands.

We have gone through what the bill does. We have also gone through why we must act with this now. Obviously, though, we would like nothing more than there to be excellent accountability up there and also stability as well. I look forward to the passage of the bill through the house, and I am informed that we will have other speakers speaking with similar statements. I commend the bill to the house.