I rise to speak to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Suspension of Executive Board) Amendment Bill, introduced and read for the first time on 10 May. From the outset I will say that the opposition supports the second reading of this bill. My understanding is that there will be a number of crossbench amendments which I will address at the appropriate time on behalf of the opposition once we have had a chance to consider their merit.
This bill seeks to remove the sunset clause added to the power given to the minister under section 130 of the APY Land Rights Act. The sunset clause was added as a compromise to alleviate opposition and crossbench concerns regarding these powers when they were rushed through this place in December 2014. The three-year sunset period is set to expire in December of this year, which is the reason why we are debating this legislation here today. From my experience as a member of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee and from what I have seen and heard over the years, I can say with confidence that what most of us in this place would term good governance is often found wanting on the lands. For too long we accepted it as part and parcel of life in these remote communities, as disappointing as it was.
However, we have seen in recent times an up tick in financial accounting practices and, in some ways, the good conduct of local government on the lands which I believe is attributable to this power that the minister has under the act. On many occasions, I am certain that the threat of suspension has ensured that standards are kept and targets are met when in the past they have not been. Let us not forget that the general manager's position was a revolving door and not in any small part as a result of bullying. It appears that stability has returned. As a result, the opposition supports the codified permanency of this power.
That is not to say that the opposition is happy to see unchecked executive power. In fact, one of the chief reasons for the opposition supporting a sunset clause originally was that we had a lack of confidence in the minister at the time to properly administer his portfolio—indeed, neither did the vast majority of members in this place. As an opposition, we trust that the current minister will use his power sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. However, of course, it goes without saying that there are systemic issues with governance on the lands and many times over the years I have implored the minister to appoint an administrator when the situation has become disgraceful and clearly detrimental to Anangu.
If we do not act on this legislation now the power will lapse and I have been advised that a return to the previous legislative power would not have the same persuasive effects as it limits the minister's ability to act to a very strict set of circumstances which is far too prohibitive. We, in this place, should be encouraging the timely remedy of governance issues on the lands and, therefore, I commend the bill to the council.