Questions ALP Senator Nova Peris will not answer

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The ALP Senator for the NT, Nova Peris (pictured), through her chief of staff David Money, has declined to answer questions put to her by the Alice Springs News Online about what is shaping up as the key question in Territory Aboriginal affairs: economic development on Aboriginal land.

 

Mr Money provided lines which we “can attribute” to the Senator but we had made it clear to him that we “find to-and-fro emails are not productive, and I’d like a conversation with Nova”.

 

The NT’s CLP Senator and now Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has spoken frequently about opportunities for leasing Aboriginal land, preferably as joint ventures with traditional owners, for businesses such as primary production or tourism.

 

The issue got further traction this week when the Alice Springs Town Council cited the need for increased commercial activity in the bush as a reason for a boost in Federal road funding.

 

Senator Scullion introduced amendments to the Land Rights Act to streamline already existing laws, and to set time limits for the land councils for dealing with applications from their clients, the traditional owners.

 

The amendments were defeated in the Senate by Labor, supported by the Greens.

 

Senator Peris said in the Senate that “the minister simply did not properly consult with affected stakeholders, in particular the land councils. The land councils do not support the regulation.”

 

On March 26 we requested an interview with Senator Peris, emailing a string of questions, but Mr Money told us the interview would not be granted.

 

This is in significant contrast to her agreeing to an extensive interview at the Alice Show in July last year. That, of course, was before the September 7 elections.

 

In the questions we emailed to Senator Peris we referred in part to a submission by the Northern and Central Land Councils.

 

Question: In the event of [an] application coming from traditional owners, what is it the land council needs to consider? Is it not simply an institution that takes care of the paperwork in accordance with instructions from the applicants (the land council’s clients)?

 

Question: If the application is refused on the objections by people other than people with immediate traditional connections to the land subject to the application, would this not violate the principle that no-one is allowed to talk for anyone else’s land? [See also “the informed consent of the appropriate traditional Aboriginal owners” in the CLC/NLC submission.]

 

Question: As it is likely that the size of land subject to a lease application for commercial purposes is quite small – typically a few square kilometers – could any investigation of the support or otherwise by traditional owners not be carried out in a few days? [Senator Scullion’s amendment would have set a three months limit.]

 

In this we referred to the CLC/NLC submission which said: “We have a grave fear that even the threat of an application for delegation, by maverick groups and/or ‘carpetbagger’ advisors purporting to act on their behalf, will lead to intra-community disputes and even possibly litigation, which the ALC, and possibly you, Minister, would have to defend at great cost to us all.”

 

Question: All NT Aboriginal land is held as inalienable freehold by land trusts. It is probable that the members of any trust affected would have come to an agreement on the application. In such an event, is it not clear that the land council has a mere facilitating role (doing the paperwork), not a decision making one? Traditional owners would simply be looking after their own land. At their discretion they may call on the LCs for administrative support.

 

Question: Is the Senator saying that “consultation” is legitimate only when it is done with the land councils, and only the land councils?

 

Question: Is the Senator aware of allegations that some land councils are not representatives of all Aboriginal people, nor maybe even the majority?

 

Question: The land councils are statutory authorities of the Federal Government and ultimately operating under its instructions. Is it a reasonable view that the Federal Government can make changes to laws that govern land councils only at the land councils’ pleasure?

 

Question: Are there examples in Central Australia of the CLC initiating and maintaining commercially feasible enterprises on Aboriginal land with strong histories of Indigenous employment and growth in the past 40 years? If so, what are they?

 

Question: Should the principal of the land councils, namely the Federal Department of Indigenous Affairs, from time to time conduct its own consultation processes?

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Dean Whyman
    Posted September 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    NOT … Nova Peris has turned her back on her own people. I know this through Our Mob who have been to her as a Federal Senator for help.
    Nova made millions from all the funding she got from the Federal Health Department to tour around Australia and run all the workshops which of course were great for health promotion and healthy lifestyles (but she didn’t do it for free and was paid millions), but now she has sold her Own Mob out. SHAME ON YOU NOVA PERIS.

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  2. Posted April 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Nova Peris disappointed and lost a lot of people when she made her maiden speech, painted up and stated that she would “right the wrongs of the past”. With nothing to offer to Aboriginal people other than perpetual victim-hood. And the rest of her constituents? Not much of anything.

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  3. Constituent
    Posted April 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Erwin – did you think that it would be any different to the contempt that Mr Snowdon shows his constituents?
    Perhaps you could do what I’ve started doing – put your questions to Natasha Griggs – she is always happy to help, and may be able to get a more formal response for you 🙂
    Why also, when they went to the last election promising to “terminate” the carbon tax are we still paying more for our electricity than we need to?

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