Minister slams Govt ‘disrespect’

INDIGENOUS MLA Barbara McCarthy has lashed out at her Government colleagues for overturning her brother’s court victory before the community could hold a funeral.

Ms McCarthy told the ABC’s 7.30 Report she crossed the floor on Thursday night because the Government was rushing through legislation to re-open the McArthur River Mine.
“It was the lowest form of disrespect against indigenous people in this country. When a great win had occurred for a senior traditional elder who’d just passed away and had not even been buried and I was devastated,” she said. “The first thing that people felt was a great sense of hurt, a great sense of injustice, insult and felt that even before this man had been buried, they’d been kicked again and that was their first feelings that came through.”

Labor MLA Barbara McCarthy

Ms McCarthy was joined by fellow indigenous MLAs Karl Hampton and Alison Anderson when she crossed the floor and voted against her own Government’s Bill.

Environment Minister Marion Scrymgour did not vote on the Bill. The legislation was intended to overturn a court decision that invalidated the Government’s authorised expansion of the McArthur River Mine.

Ms McCarthy told Parliament that she opposed the Bill for “personal reasons” but she also felt the legislation was being rushed through too quickly after the death of her brother, a local Boroloola activist who fought against the expansion.

Alison Anderson backed her colleague by also opposing the urgency of the Bill. “I want to make sure I get people to understand and see the ramifications that this will have on the people at Boroloola,” she said. The Territory’s newest MLA, Karl Hampton also stood beside Ms McCarthy.

“When I came to this parliament, I said that I represent people in my electorate to my best ability, and I would stand up for their rights,” he said.

When Mines Minister Chris Natt approved the expansion in October, Ms McCarthy painted her face in traditional white clay and told Parliament she shared the concerns of traditional owners.

Ms McCarthy urged the government to also look at the expansion from social, environmental, spiritual and cultural points of view.

NICK CALACOURAS, 08May07

http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2007/05/08/977_ntnews.html

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