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Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 26 July 2016)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 12:50 :27 ): The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill seeks to change the APY Executive Board. The bill makes changes to the composition of the board, the way in which the board is elected, establishes new electorates and who is eligible to vote and be nominated for the board.

I understand these changes were brought about as a result of a targeted review which was headed by Dr Robyn Layton. I, along with my other colleagues, have been contacted by stakeholders who raised concerns that the bill which is presented before parliament today is quite different from the bill that was presented for consultation. The government has provided a response to these issues; however, I want to put on the record a number of matters which may still present a problem.

First, I am concerned about the electoral roll which will be kept by the Electoral Commissioner and the method of voting. I understand that the Anangu will need to be enrolled to be eligible to vote and that the voting system has changed from one which involved marbles and pictures of the candidates. In our briefing, the government explained that this would allow a greater number of people to vote, especially when they are absent from their electorate as Anangu will not have to physically be at the polling booth to cast a vote. However, I hold concerns that low literacy rates of Anangu may result in a smaller number of voters due to the failure to enrol or a lack of understanding of how to cast a vote correctly. If the minister has details of the campaign that will be undertaken to advise Anangu of the new requirements I would be happy to hear them.

Stakeholders have also raised issues with the expansion of offences which are defined as a serious offence as these now include drug, alcohol and gambling offences. The concern is that the inclusion of these offences may exclude a large number of people who, with the exception of making bad decisions in their past, would otherwise make great community leaders. I understand that the offences listed are not summary offences but a person must be found guilty of a serious offence and that these offences are consistent with the APY by-laws. I hold concerns that this list of offences are able to be changed by regulation at any stage and I am not supportive of this.

Whilst I am not putting into question the current minister's intentions, the sceptic in me could see a situation where a future minister could use this as a tool to deliberately exclude an individual or individuals from standing for the board. It is becoming more and more common for this government to say that they will put details into regulations. This is bad practice. It avoids parliamentary scrutiny and many matters are changed at the discretion of the minister or at the whim of the government.

Again, I am not specifically indicating that this will be the case for regulations relating to clause 4 of the bill but I am just putting on the record my objection to this practice of dealing with matters by regulation. With that, I support the second reading of the bill but reserve my position on the bill.