I rise today on behalf of the opposition to speak to the Aboriginal Heritage (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill, which we will be supporting subject to some amendments that I have on file. This bill seeks to amend the Aboriginal Heritage Act of 1988 to recognise direct agreements between traditional owners and government, as well as developers and mining operators, regarding the use of sites protected under the act. It will also resolve discrepancies between current land access agreements.
The bill aims to ensure all traditional owners have an equal say before government when agreements on land use are being negotiated. In some cases, there are many groups that lay claim to heritage sites, and the act streamlines these negotiations. The bill will establish a process for Aboriginal and native title representative groups to be officially recognised under the act as 'recognised Aboriginal representative bodies' (RARBs), therefore allowing them to negotiate with land use proponents officially with full authority.
The effect of this is twofold: it prevents the stonewalling of attempts of legitimate use of land on sites with Aboriginal heritage by certain groups with special interests but also gives even the smallest of native title groups and bodies a say at the negotiating table, provided they are officially recognised and registered. This is necessary as any splinter group could then enter negotiations and white ant any genuine attempts at economic activity on the site. All native title claimant body corporates will become official RARBs upon the act becoming law, unless these bodies specifically opt out.
I acknowledge the contribution of the Hon. Ms Franks and her putting on the record the dissatisfaction of SA Native Title Services. It believes that there has been inadequate consultation. On that point, it is disappointing that the government is rushing this through so quickly. This bill has not even spent its customary one sitting week on the Notice Paper. I hope that the minister will ensure that all stakeholders have an adequate opportunity for consultation on the bill and that all issues have been addressed.
I foreshadow a number of amendments that I will move at the committee stage of the debate regarding mediation between groups and the abolition of costs for applications to the court. These amendments are the result of discussions between the shadow minister, the member for Morphett in another place, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, and were deemed necessary by crown law. I commend the bill to the council.