Greens MP introduces bill to protect remote communities

30 June 2016

Today WA Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC gave his second reading speech of the Prevention of Forced Closure of Remote Aboriginal Communities Bill 2016.

The bill aims to provide surety to Aboriginal people living in established remote communities that they will not be forced to move off country, either directly or through a limitation of the municipal and essential services provided by the state government.

Municipal and essential services include, but are not limited to power, water, sewerage, infrastructure, education, health services, and waste disposal.

The bill also aims to enshrine in legislation the deep cultural, spiritual, familial and social relationship Aboriginal peoples have with the land, and would require decision makers to adhere to the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mr Chapple said the bill was a reflection of the deep lack of trust felt by Aboriginal people over the Barnett government’s ambiguous, and disrespectful, rhetoric about remote communities.

“This legislation is important in that it acknowledges and enshrines the deep cultural, spiritual, and social relationship Aboriginal peoples have with the land,” Mr Chapple said.

“I have received extensive feedback from Aboriginal elders, community leaders and organisations since tabling a draft of this bill at the beginning of last month and the bulk of that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Taking that feedback on board there have been no changes to the bill as it stands, however I would like to make it clear that this bill is for Aboriginal people and in that regard, I welcome ongoing feedback on the wording, scope and intention of this important piece of legislation.

“Aboriginal communities are absolutely crucial to ensuring that a reform process delivers on its promise of closing the gap, otherwise there is a very real danger of history repeating itself.

“Again, it is my sincere hope that this bill will pave the way for meaningful conversation and community-driven solutions to problems facing Aboriginal people in Western Australia.”

For comment please contact Media Liaison Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 9486 8255.

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