Barbara McCarthy: speech on the McArthur River amendment

This is Barbara McCarthy’s  speech from the third reading of the McArthur River Amendment (sec 4AB Ratification of certain instruments)  when three MLA’s crossed the floor to vote against the bill in the Northern Territory Parliament on 3rd May 2007.

Interruptions from other members have been edited out.

Ms McCARTHY (Arnhem): Madam Speaker, I speak against this bill and put my voice on the record as to the reasons why I must speak against the bill. I have listened intently to the debate that has continued throughout the day and I commend the Attorney-General on his comments in this House about the Northern Territory Labor government and the fact that we are a broad church, the fact that we …

As I was getting to the legislation I put on the record that this is legislation to which I am opposed for personal reasons and what I see as legislation being pushed through on urgency, when for the Aboriginal people in the Borroloola region, the Yanyuwa, the Garrwa, the Mara and the Gudanji, there is Sorry Business going on right now. It is unfortunate that any kind of legislation has to be forced through at a time when families are grieving over a very important person who has fought for the rights of the Gulf region in this case against the diversion of the river.

I have stood in this House on two occasions, Madam Speaker, to express the deep sincerity of the people of the Gulf region regarding the importance of the river. This legislation is being rushed through on urgency without having first buried a very important man, my brother, who has stood in the Supreme Court to argue for the rights of indigenous people in this country. I have explained and expressed this quite well with my colleagues, who I know have fought difficult situations regarding this particular project in the Gulf region …

Thank you, Madam Speaker. In regards to this legislation, I must speak against it. I certainly feel that, on behalf of the people of the Gulf region, and in particular indigenous people right across the Northern Territory and, indeed, Australia, that to pass this legislation on urgency, in the middle of Sorry Business is the lowest sign of respect for those people and families. I still encourage my colleagues in government to negotiate with the traditional owners on a level of equality and equity. I sincerely put to the House that I vote against this bill. I thank members for allowing me this opportunity.

One response to “Barbara McCarthy: speech on the McArthur River amendment

  1. Indigenous infrastructure, specifically, traditional negotiation rights would inevitably fall in the North of the Australia. With the numbers of TO’s disregarding what is occurring in the rest of the country, it was only a matter of time before the wheel would turn and see them in a vulnerable position, with little support. This is a lesson, for the 500 something clans of Aboriginal Australia. Networking and support remain essential to our survival. The Murray is by no means a comparative, as implied by activist Murrandoo Yanner.
    Pastoralist, over decades has contributed to the demise of the darling, and only through prior broad trade, networking, and connected campaigns, have TO’s managed to negotiate with the pastoralist, and governments, how ever not under the guise of Native title. It was never attainable to such degrees in the south.
    A word of warning; with little support from across the 500 Nations, Rudd will not stand head to head with the mining company. Apologetically, McCarthy will not stand supported in her campaign.

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