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Greens back First Nations voices on Native Title

[by Lisa Wills]

 Image:supplied

The Greens have voted against the Government’s Native Title Amendment Bill - a bill designed to keep Traditional Owners from exercising sovereignty over their lands and waters.

The position of the Australian Greens is very clear: free, prior, and informed consent must be obtained from all Traditional Owners before decisions are made about their lands and waters. This is in step with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which Australia is a signatory.

Senator for Victoria and Greens First Nations spokesperson Lidia Thorpe sought to amend the Bill to allow for native title applications to be made over national, state, or territory parks and Crown land, by negotiation and in agreement between the relevant government and the Traditional Owners. The amendment did not receive support from any other parties. 

“This Government’s problem is that it can’t take no for an answer. Where First Nations people do not consent to actions on their land - particularly mining and mineral exploration that desecrates country - that should be enough to stop a project from going ahead,” Senator Thorpe said today.

“This land was not ‘Terra Nullius’ when white colonisers arrived. Our First Nations People have lived here since time immemorial. Our sovereignty has never been ceded - yet the Government keeps making decisions about us, without us.

“We know who the Government backs - it’s their corporate mining mates. These corporates get a say in what happens on Country, but too often the voices of Traditional Owners are ignored. The destruction of Jukkan Gorge at the hands of Rio Tinto is a stain on this country’s soul, and yet no-one has been held to account for it.”

Senator Thorpe today reaffirmed her calls for a national Treaty.

“A national Treaty would make clear that we, the First Nations Peoples of these Lands, deserve to have our rights, our knowledge, and our sovereignty respected. It would acknowledge the truth of our past, and bring us together to heal as a nation,” she added.

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