On 12 February 2020 the Treaty Commissioner Bill 2020 (the “Bill”) was introduced to Northern Territory’s Legislative Assembly by Ms Uibo, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The Bill was immediately referred to the Legislation Scrutiny Committee for inquiry and report due by 5 May 2020.
The Bill’s Compatibility Statement indicates that the Bill has two primary objectives:
In addition to fulfilling the two primary objectives, the Bill details other arrangements that surround the Treaty Commissioner’s statutory appointment. While some of these arrangements are contained in the Barunga Agreement, others are specific to the Bill, some being:
The Bill’s Explanatory Statement (“ES”) states:
According to the website of the Northern Territory Treaty Commission, the Treaty Commissioner’s role is to "consult with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory regarding a treaty and develop a framework for treaty negotiations."
Clause 11 of the Bill provides for the functions and powers of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner's functions are:
(a) to gauge support in the Territory for a treaty between the Territory and Aboriginal peoples of the Territory; and
(b) to consider what a treaty in the Territory should seek to achieve.
The Commissioner's powers are:
(a) to consult with the Territory Aboriginal Land Councils, the Aboriginal peoples of the Territory and areas adjacent to the Territory and Territorians in general; and
(b) to facilitate communications between the Territory, Territory Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal peoples of the Territory in relation to the development of a framework for future treaty negotiations.
In June 2018, the Northern Territory’s fourand the Northern Territory Government signed an historic MoU, paving the way for consultations to begin with Aboriginal people about a Treaty, this became known as the Barunga Agreement.
An article in theof June 2018, noted “… this is the first time the NT government and land councils have agreed to work together in this way, and the first time in decades that the four big land councils – the Northern, Central, Anindilyakwa and Tiwi – have joined together in consensus”.
Under the terms of the MoU, the NT Government will appoint an independent Treaty Commissioner “who will lead the consultations with Aboriginal people and organisations across the Territory, and develop a framework for Treaty negotiations. The Commissioner will be an Aboriginal person with strong connections to the Territory, and expressions of interest will be called for the position”.
In 1988 the Northern and Central Land Council presented the late former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, with the Barunga Statement, which called on the Government to recognise the rights of Aboriginal Australians. The Hawke Government adopted a policy to support a treaty between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — but no treaty has since been signed.
Speaking toin 2019, Federal Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon said:
In the Minister’s second reading speech, she commented:
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
Treaty Commissioner Bill 2020 (NT) – Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service
FREE legislation news, delivered weekly.
Sign up now.#WeLoveLegislation Tweets
NEW information resources - great for training.