"Racist legislation – death of culture" Senator Bob Brown, Australian Greens

“This legislation is the death of culture. We know it and you know it.”

“This racist legislation, which, the indication is, the Labor Party is going to support—can you believe it?— will be guillotined somewhere in the next 24 hours.”

“Where is opposition leader Rudd when a stand should be taken for decency in the application of the law, in the parliamentary process and in the democratic relationship between the parliament and the people?”

read full extact:

Hansard (Proof) Australian Senate 14 August 2007

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania—Leader of the
Australian Greens) (6.23 pm)—Yes, we should do it in
that order. We are very well aware, by the way, that the
guillotine will be used on this legislation within the
next 24 hours or so and that the proper debate of this
monumental legislation and its impact on this nation
will be cut short by the government using its numbers
to gag the Senate from such a debate. Let us not beat
around the bush here. The measures that would protect
children, including the movement of police into the
communities, that the government set under way some
weeks ago, can and will continue.
This legislation we are dealing with now, and which
is proposed by the opposition should come on first,
which we agree with, brings up a raft of very contentious
matters, including the takeover of Indigenous
communities without their consent and the end of the
ability of Indigenous communities to regulate access to
those communities. We saw just yesterday the police
saying that that is a bad thing, that is not going to give
them the control with communities that they have had
in the past to safeguard those communities. The legislation
includes the taking away of just compensation
when communities are taken over under this legislation.
This is in breach of the Constitution, and people
will have to go to the High Court, because there will be
no appeal to this parliament.
This legislation will have been guillotined through
here in the rush to the election, for the electoral purposes
of the Howard government, supported by the
Rudd opposition. It includes giving the coercive powers
of the Australian Crime Commission over to be
used against black Australians but not white Australians.
These powers, which were there to help safeguard
this country from international drug smugglers,
triads and international criminal outfits, are now being
used against individual Indigenous people, households
and communities—provided they are Indigenous. You
cannot do it if they are non-Indigenous, if it is the rest
of Australians. This racist legislation, which, the indication
is, the Labor Party is going to support—can you
believe it?—will be guillotined somewhere in the next
24 hours. I would not be surprised if that is with the
support of the Labor Party either, because, as Mr Rudd
said in Tasmania on another matter—the support for
the pulp mill and the burning of forests in Tasmania—
‘I am behind Prime Minister Howard 100 per cent of
the way.’ Ditto this legislation.
What a failure of the democratic system. Where are
the opposition when this nation needs them? Where is
opposition leader Rudd when a stand should be taken
for decency in the application of the law, in the parliamentary
process and in the democratic relationship
between the parliament and the people? All of that is
out the window. The best the Leader of the Opposition
can do is say ‘me too’ to Prime Minister Howard, this
Prime Minister who marked his first month in office by
cutting $400 million from what was required in Indigenous
spending back in August 1996. And the Prime
Minister this year defunded Aboriginal language
wherewithal in this country.
This legislation is the death of culture. We know it
and you know it. It has not even been debated in this
place, and it will not be debated in this place because
the guillotine is coming. Is that going to be regretted
down the line? Let nobody in this chamber say they did
not know—because they do. Everybody knows. Hands
up anybody in this chamber who has read the 600
pages in this legislation. Let us see. Not one. Nor has
the Prime Minister. Nor has the cabinet.
Senator Lightfoot interjecting—
Senator BOB BROWN—The member opposite
from the government side interjects, ‘There’s only
about four members in this chamber.’ Actually, there
are three government members. That is how much they
care about Aboriginal Australians and their rights as
equal citizens in this country. Rights are being ripped
away from them by this government legislation, supported
by the Rudd opposition—can you believe that in
2007? There is no choice with the Labor opposition,
because there is no backbone there when it comes to
difficult decisions like standing for the rights of First
Australians and making sure that they do get the
health, the education, the job opportunities and the security
that they have been denied under Labor and Liberal
governments and that would safeguard their communities
but also honour their culture. There is none of
that from Labor here tonight. This is a Howard Labor
opposition. One of the worst, if not the worst, pieces of
legislation brought before this parliament is being endorsed
by the Rudd Labor opposition here tonight.
They say, ‘12 months down the line, we’ll have a look
at it.’ We will see about that. The Greens say no to this
legislation. We will fight this while ever there is an
hour left of debate in this chamber.