Time out needed on Indigenous legislation: Catholic Social Services

Condemning the lack of consultation on the Federal Government's Northern Territory Indigenous legislation, Catholic Social Services Australia chief, Frank Quinlan, yesterday insisted on two months of deliberation before passage of the bills presently before Parliament.

"The Inquiry process has been inadequate and the lack of consultation in the lead-up to the tabling of the legislation last week ahead of the one day Senate Committee hearing last Friday is to be condemned," Mr Quinlan said in a statement.

"With no notice, more than 150 submissions were made to the Senate Committee. Yet only a few days later the majority Committee's view is expressed in just four pages, including recommendations. Is this an adequate consideration of issues of this scale?

"Senators need more time to read and fully consider the implications of this significant legislation," Mr Quinlan said.

In its submission to the Senate Inquiry, Catholic Social Services Australia recommended a Senate Inquiry period of at least two months.

That timeframe would enable adequate consultation with Indigenous leaders and others, to identify and eliminate racial discrimination from the Bills, to assess the evidence on the value of provisions such as welfare 'quarantining', and to eliminate the problems with Indigenous sentencing provisions that this same Senate Committee said were ill conceived when they examined related Bills in 2006.

Catholic Social Services Australia's concerns were echoed in many of the 150 submissions received by the Senate Committee.

"If our approach to the appalling state of Indigenous welfare in some communities is to be effective and lasting we must engage the leaders of those communities effectively in developing and evaluating solutions, including any necessary legislation.

"That the Parliament has today voted down an amendment calling for the 'independent and comprehensive annual review' of the legislation to measure its impact on Indigenous people does not bode well," Mr Quinlan said.

Indigenous legislation - Democracy in action or politics at play? (Catholic Social Services Australia, Media Release, 15/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Social Services Australia

No going back to square one on indigenous issues: Caritas chief (CathNews, 15/8/07)
Hasten slowly on Indigenous welfare: Catholic Social Services (CathNews, 8/8/07)
Bishop comments a bit rough, Minister complains (CathNews, 9/7/07)
Work with Aborigines, bishops say (CathNews, 6/7/07)
Tackle Indigenous problems, not symptoms: Caritas (CathNews, 26/6/07)
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Wadeye Indigenous community appeals to Pell (CathNews, 21/11/06)
Aboriginal elder tells Catholics to challenge Indigenous injustices (CathNews, 15/9/06)
Bishops' social justice statement focuses on Indigenous disadvantage (CathNews, 14/9/06)

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