Wednesday, 22 June 2022


Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022



Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022

Second reading

Debate resumed on motion of Ms WILLIAMS:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (11:01): Can I start by acknowledging country as well. I know it is against the forms of the house but can I particularly acknowledge all those in the gallery who have been part of this process. I think we all owe them a debt of gratitude for the work that has gone into arriving at where we have arrived at today. So can I particularly acknowledge everyone who is in the gallery. Can I say that Aunty Geraldine’s speech is one of the best inaugural speeches I have seen from a member on this floor, and I commend her for doing it. I know she was nervous, but it was a brilliant speech. Thank you very, very much for that speech, and to Marcus as well for his speech.

As Uncle Wally Cooper used to say when he did welcomes to country when I was in the Wangaratta area with the member for Ovens Valley, we want to walk across this land together. We want to walk across this land together with all of you to make sure that your aspirations, your desires and your wishes are actually achieved for your particular people but particularly for your children and your grandchildren. I know, as I have talked to a lot of particularly the aunties over my journeys, the aunties’ key wish is that for their children and their grandchildren we make sure that they, like all of us, have a better life than we have had as we go forward.

The Liberal and National parties absolutely support this legislation and want to see the whole process progress further. The treaty journey will mean different things to different people, and it will be a difficult process for a lot of people. There is no argument about that—that as we work through these issues, as we have worked through the discussions, they will not always be easy. But I think the first thing is the truth telling that has been going on, because as people would say, the truth sets you free. Whatever the truth is, the truth is, and we need to acknowledge that truth and move forward. But as the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, it is important that those discussions are actually respectful and that that journey is carried out in a respectful manner. It is not about conflict, it is about actually resolving past conflicts and making sure we walk forward together, as I have said. This bill before the house to set up the Treaty Authority is putting in place an authority, as has been described by both Aunty Geri and Marcus, that will actually guide the process and assist those in the process with mediation, advice and research. And we look forward to working as part of that.

I suppose what I would like to do is also dispel the myth that has been created by some around this process that it is only the Labor Party that will actually work with the Indigenous community on treaty. This side of the house, both the Liberal and the National parties, are committed to working with the Indigenous community on treaty as well. For anyone that is actually spreading that myth, I think it reflects more on them than it does on anyone else in this chamber or in the wider community. Both sides of the chamber are prepared to work together on this, and I think that has been demonstrated today. I would like anyone that tries to propagate that myth in the future to stop and think—because if you actually look back on the history in this place, when we were in government Jeanette Powell was the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and she worked tirelessly with her community and the wider community, and we thank Jeanette for her work. When she retired, the member for Gippsland East took over that role and equally filled that role to carry it out there. So it is about both sides of the chamber. When we were in government we worked with our Indigenous community, and the member for Gippsland East continued that work in opposition as the shadow minister before I took that role on. So for anyone that thinks there is any issue around our side of politics not wanting to work with the Indigenous community, that is a falsehood. We do want to do that, so can you please take that away from the discussions today on this particular bill.

As has been said, it is about sharing knowledge and sharing information, because that is how we will all learn and we will all go forward. I want to spend a few minutes talking about the people that I have interacted with over that journey and that have helped me in my wider community in northern Victoria, and I am sure other speakers on this bill will talk about their sharing of knowledge in their particular communities as well. But I start off with Uncle Sandy Atkinson, and obviously Uncle Wally, who I have already mentioned. Uncle Sandy was someone that was always really good to sit down and just talk with and have a yarn with about what went on. Uncle Sandy’s contribution to the whole process of getting the path for the new Echuca bridge that was recently opened was the very important role he played in that community in making sure everyone understood the issues involved in determining the route and having that bridge built.

Aunty Geraldine we have already welcomed to the chamber. She made, as I said, one of the best inaugural speeches I have heard in this place from any member. Aunty Geraldine is absolutely committed to the education process and making sure that her community has the educational opportunities that some others missed out on. The fact is that her grandmother was part of the walk-off from Cummeragunja, and they have this history that we need to know, because there were wrongs—wrongs that do need to be acknowledged and do need to be righted. To Aunty Geraldine for the work she has done in her community about increasing educational opportunities, thank you, and we want to keep working with you and others on that particular part of your commitment to your community about education.

One of the ones that I have really enjoyed spending time with is Uncle Rick Ronan in Echuca, a proud Wolithiga man. Uncle Rick has shared his history as well. His family left Cummeragunja before the walk-off and they moved into Echuca, and as he has shared his history of how they integrated into the community there it has been a learning for me. The thing that has always stuck in my mind with Uncle Rick is that on Australia Day in Echuca three years ago, I think it was—we know how Australia Day is very contentious within the Indigenous community—Uncle Rick still came along and did the welcome to country. I was talking to him afterwards, and he said, ‘I am conflicted. I know my people don’t like Australia Day, but I am Australian as well, and I felt I had a responsibility to come along and be part of it and do the acknowledgement of my country and welcome to my country’. That sort of attitude is something that I think we all need to take forward in how we heal and work together over time. Uncle Rick has a proud history working in the education system—he has recently retired—and has done a lot for his community in Echuca.

If I go to Kerang in my community, Uncle Lloyd Murray and Aunty Esther Kirby are two powers of that community there in what they do for their community. I have an emu egg. Aunty Esther is great at doing emu eggs. I have an emu egg from Aunty Esther that has pride of place in my house, and I thank her and Uncle Lloyd for what they do for the communities there.

As I raised with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs when we had the debate recently in this house, one of the unfortunate things in that community is that Department of Premier and Cabinet bureaucrats are using the elders’ names in vain, I think, in stopping a new preschool at Koondrook, because they are saying there are cultural heritage issues there. The local elders are saying, ‘You haven’t even talked to us. You haven’t asked us. We have no issue with that preschool building being built. Why are you holding it up?’. The minister took it on notice last time when I raised it in the house and said she would go away and look at it. I hope that is the case, because that is an issue where Indigenous people working on Indigenous issues should have rights on their own land, rather than someone from Melbourne coming in and having a say over and above them on that particular issue.

The other person that I have had a long journey with is Rodney Carter, who is the CEO of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation in Bendigo. That history goes back, as Rodney comes from Swan Hill. He worked for the department and then worked for the Game Management Authority before he took on the role he has now.

What I would like to do is use an example where I think everyone can work together and we can create the healing that is needed as we go forward. It involved some time with the member for Ripon at Melville Caves in Kooyoora State Park near Kingower and Rheola, where there is a lot of good work being done by the Dja Dja Wurrung in restoring that park. But there is an issue with a building, Catto Lodge, which was put there 50-odd years ago, which some people wanted to remove. It has meaning and history to that community, as does the rest of the park to the Indigenous community. To Rodney’s credit, to the local community’s credit and to the member for Ripon’s credit, everyone was able to work together to get a good outcome. I think that paints the picture for what can be achieved if we all sit down, we all talk, we all understand where everyone is coming from and we understand this is a shared journey. I think that is an example of what can be achieved as we go forward. I thank Rodney for everything he has done over that time. I thank him for the work he has done making sure that the timber out of the Wombat forest is cleaned up, and there is an opportunity there for the Indigenous community and in this case VicForests to work together to achieve a good outcome in the Wombat forest. One of the reasons the issue with Catto Lodge and Kooyoora State Park is personal to me is that my family actually settled there pre gold rush, so I have a history with that land too—nowhere near as long and nowhere near as strong as the Indigenous community, but we do have a history and we need to share that and understand where we both come from through that particular time.

I would like to finish off by acknowledging the aunties in Swan Hill that I have spent a lot of time with, and I go back to what Aunty Geri has been talking about and their aspiration for their grandchildren particularly to have a better life into the future. One of the women in Swan Hill I spent a lot of time with a number of years ago is a lady called Sue Connolly, who is a local Aboriginal artist, and I note she has a display on at the Swan Hill art gallery at the moment. Back in the millennium drought Lake Boga, which is one of the lakes in Swan Hill, was going dry. Sue rang me up, and we went out and had a look at the lake. Most people were concerned about the lake going dry because they could not waterski or they could not sail or carry out the normal recreational activities that you carry out at a lake, but what Sue was really concerned about was the reed beds on the side of the lake, that if they died she would not be able to get reeds to make her mats into the future and how to make sure there is water there to keep the reeds alive so that she could gather reeds to make the beautiful reed mats that she makes. Again, it is about understanding what people’s involvement in any particular issues is, and for her it was not so much about the lake going dry for normal recreational activity, it was about the traditional use of the reeds that grow around the lake and what she needed to make those mats—again, an issue when we talk about the management of water and an Indigenous say in how water is managed into the future.

This legislation puts in place the process and the support so those ongoing discussions can happen. We are very supportive of that process. We want to be part of that process. If we are fortunate to have a change of government in November and we are the government, we will continue that process. We want to work with you into the future. Again, I go back to what I said before: do not believe anyone who is peddling the myth that you have to work with the Labor Party to get these outcomes. You can work with our side of politics as well. If we are in government, we want to make sure that we work with you to achieve your aspirations for your community.

As both Marcus and Aunty Geri have said when I have talked to them, treaty will mean different things to different people. Some treaty will be local, some may be statewide. Those are the things that will happen over time as the discussions happen. It will not be an easy process, it will not be a short process, but let us make sure it is a positive process for everyone that is involved. As I said, as the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, let us make sure that those discussions are respectful, that everyone sits down and talks sensibly and that we actually arrive at a good outcome for the Indigenous community here in Victoria. Thank you for coming into Parliament. Thank you for presenting today. We look forward to continuing that dialogue in the future.

Ms COUZENS (Geelong) (11:14): I am really proud to rise to contribute on the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022. I want to begin by acknowledging the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of the land that this Parliament is built on, and I also acknowledge the traditional owners, the Wadawurrung people of my electorate, known as Djilang, and all First Nations people present in the gallery and online today. I pay my respects to ancestors and elders. I thank First Nations people for their care of the lands and waterways and for sharing their beautiful culture with us.

I also acknowledge and thank the First Peoples’ Assembly and the co-chairs, Aunty Geri and Marcus, for their hard work. I know how challenging it is for all the assembly, including the co-chairs. I want to also acknowledge and thank the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for her strong commitment to doing what is right and past ministers—the member for Sydenham was the previous minister. I also want to acknowledge Aunty Jill Gallagher, the past treaty commissioner. I did a lot of work with Jill in her role. The education and awareness that was shared across our communities was extraordinary, so I want to pay a special thanks to her.

For me personally, this is the most important bill that I have ever spoken on in the Parliament in my time as an MP. This is not just about words, it is about action, and this is a Labor government delivering in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal community. Treaty is about unfinished business. It is an opportunity to come to terms with our past, to acknowledge the long, rich culture and to work together for a shared future. This is about real determination, truth telling, justice. First Peoples know what is right for their communities: making the decisions that matter and that make a difference. This is all about connection to country. This is all about connection to their community. This is about survival.

I am really proud that the Andrews Labor government has genuinely listened to the First Peoples of this state. There has been a lot of funding committed, which is fantastic, and it is a very important part of this process. The dollars attached are important, but the price—or the pricelessness—of this treaty commitment is far more valuable. I am pleased that we have gone down this track. I am really pleased that the opposition are supporting this bill, although I have seen comments over the last week in the media that it has to be about closing the gap—well, that is exactly what this is doing. It is closing the gap. It will close the gap. It will work towards closing the gap.

The lead speaker for the opposition I do not think really talked about treaty at all. He talked about working with his community, and that is fine, and everyone in this place works with the Aboriginal community in some way. But this is far bigger than that. This is not just about helping Aboriginal communities to provide services, this is so fundamental to the Aboriginal community of Victoria. To not hear any discussion about what is in the bill I found quite disappointing. There are members opposite and in the other place that have made some pretty shocking comments, particularly a member for Western Victoria Region in the other place, who is quite clear about opposing this bill. For Aboriginal communities across Western Victoria, which is part of the south-west of my electorate, on Wadawurrung country and Gunditjmara country, why would you be saying that to those people? We talk about supporting Aboriginal communities, we talk about treaty—well, let us be genuine about what we are saying here.

I do want to also acknowledge the Couzens family, the Gunditjmara people from Framlingham, because it is from them that I learned of the invasion of First Peoples’ lands, of the massacres, of the stolen generation and of stolen language. That was my education, and being married to a Gunditjmara man, I learned and saw firsthand the racism and white privilege that was so prevalent in our communities—the impact of racism when he tried to get housing or employment, the police harassment, the assumptions that were made when accessing health care. He died at the age of 26 and never had the chance to have his children know who he was. We did not really get the opportunity to talk about treaty or recognition of First Nations people, because his daily battle was surviving the racism that was in our community. I never really expected to see treaty in my lifetime, and my late husband did not, but I would like to think he would be proud of what we are doing in this place today. I know our children are. And the reason I tell this story is that it is the truth for thousands of Aboriginal people in this state. This is not a unique story. It is not something you hear occasionally. His story is what Aboriginal people have experienced in this state for over 200 years, so I thought it was important to tell this story and to put into Hansard that this is not a unique story. The importance of what we are doing here today is so significant, and my children and every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in this gallery today know exactly what I am talking about.

The bill today is a result of ancestors, elders, community members and activists past and present, including the assembly members who have in the chamber today told their stories and talked about truth telling. Victoria is leading this country on the Uluru Statement from the Heart,treaty, truth, justice and self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians. I have had the opportunity to read what the assembly representatives think about treaty, and I want to include in Hansard the South-West Region representatives, which includes Wadawurrung country. Jordan Edwards, Gunditjmara, member for South-West Region:

It’s definitely been a different process … There’s been a lot of challenges internally and externally and hopefully we can nut them out, but definitely an achievement is getting the truth and justice commission, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, up and running. That’s definitely a win, but there’s a lot more challenges that we need to overcome.

Educate yourselves on the process … so we can get a full understanding of where people are coming from and we’re all on the same page.

Read up and study what this process is and what the outcomes could potentially be.

Uncle Michael ‘Mookeye’ Bell, Gunditjmara:

I support the establishment of the Treaty Process and connections to many communities across the South-West Region gave me the confidence to run for the Assembly …

Sean Fagan, Wadawurrung, reserved seat holder for the Wadawurrung traditional owners:

… I am sick and tired of fighting and crying and sick and tired of seeing my family cry and all the struggle … It is time we can move forward, and it is time for change.

There’s still a lot to be done, we’ve only just started really, but we’re laying the foundations for a new way of doing things so hopefully there won’t be the heartache of the past for our people.

This bill will allow the Treaty Authority to be established as a truly independent umpire, and we have heard that this is what Aboriginal communities are saying needs to happen. As I said, I am so proud of this government and our commitment to treaty. And as I said, I never thought I would see it in my lifetime. I am so proud and privileged to be able to stand here today representing my three Gunditjmara children but also every Aboriginal Victorian in this state, because it means so much to so many people and I am just delighted that we have got to this point. It is only a Labor government that delivers this sort of reform in the state. Those opposite can say whatever they like, but I commend this bill to the house.

Ms BRITNELL (South-West Coast) (11:24): I rise to speak on the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022. I do so with great happiness that today we are here, with both sides of the assembly and the chamber in unison, to see treaty go forward. I see it as an authority that will be facilitating discussion—discussion that will make sure that into the future we see a lot less of the word ‘shame’ being used by the Aboriginal community. I do not want to hear ‘shame job’ said ever again. I want to hear pride. I want to hear the history told with the absolute pride that I have heard so many times in the past.

When I came into the chamber today, I held hands with my dear friend Michael Bell and walked through the smoking ceremony as a sign of unity, of us walking forward together. I have got a long history of friendship within the community, and it gave me much pleasure to hold your hand, Michael, and walk together into this chamber. I am very disappointed to hear that we are still politicising this; member for Geelong, I am sorry, but this is not a place or a time to politicise this. It has been stated quite clearly that we want to work together on both sides of the chamber to progress treaty, and we endorse it and embrace this opportunity. So no more divisive discussion—only unity from hereon in.

I speak in this place as somebody who had managed an ACCHO from 1997, when I first met Jill Gallagher, who also started in the field of health in Aboriginal communities in and around 1997. As a manager of an ACCHO in the Aboriginal community controlled health organisation system, I saw very, very clearly the importance of self-determination and the importance of having the Aboriginal community in charge of making decisions and determining their future. One aim I began with was the aim of making myself redundant as the non-Indigenous nurse in the community so I had the community empowered to be able to continue the good work that was being done in that health service, Kirrae Health Service. I left knowing that it was in very good hands with Veronica Harradine, who today still runs a fantastic show. Some of the young girls who started there are still working there today, such as Ivy Clark, who does a fantastic job.

I was fortunate to work with Violet Clark—or Mary, as many of you would affectionately remember her as—and I pay my respects. Violet passed on just a few years ago now, and together I worked with her. We were a team, we were buddies. I had the health credentials, certificates and whatever and Violet had the experience, and together we worked in the community. Together we were actually a great team. It was such a pleasure to see her daughter Alice come through the system. Before the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation developed the Aboriginal health worker course training, Violet and I got her to go through the local hospital, go through different departments and different wards, learn about the health system and develop her career at the start of her life. Now Alice is the mother of the famous Jamarra, who we are all very proud of, watching his career progressing at the Bulldogs, and it is with great pleasure that I remember that journey of Alice, beginning her career at the age of 17.

So I think we have got a lot of work to do, and I know there are capable people who I worked with in different communities, be it Kirrae Whurrong, where I worked, or Gunditjmara up the road, Dja Dja Wurrung, Dhauwurd Wurrung, Wathaurong down in Geelong or Rumbalara up in the north. All those amazing communities have got so much to offer and have so much capability, so it is through treaty that we will be able to embrace and unite our communities. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn not much of the language but enough to feel comfortable, to learn that there were people from the Noongar community, the Murray community and of course the Koori community, which we know so well, and to learn little things like what ‘gunjies’ means or what ‘moom’ means. The word I really love the most is ‘ngatanwarr’, which means in our community of the Peek Woorroong and Gunditjmara people ‘welcome, hello’; it is such a wonderful word, and I hope it is okay that I use that if ever I am doing a welcome to country. I look for your permission to be able to use it, because I think it is a fantastic word and everybody should have it in their vocabulary.

The reason I speak today is because of the experiences I had, and if you would let me, I will talk about just a couple of the experiences. When I started, I thought I was a person who really did have an understanding of general people and was very embracing, but I did not have a lot of understanding of the Indigenous community. I do not have, still, a lot of understanding of multicultural communities, but that is quite different. I need to know, and I did not know as much as I should have about Indigenous communities, having grown up in Australia. I did not know, which is a shame.

I was so lucky. Uncle Bill Edwards shared with me his story about going off to war and coming back and not being able to get land allocated to him—as my children’s grandfather did as a soldier who went to war and came back and was allocated a soldier settlement block. Because that was before Aboriginal communities were allowed to own land, Bill was not allowed to do that. I was mortified to learn that. Bill worked for his whole life and was an amazing worker. He worked at the Union Station in Woolsthorpe and worked as a home and community care worker at the end of his career, mowing lawns around the community and helping me run the home and community care program.

I heard stories about Lionel Harradine. The Harradines came from the east coast of New South Wales. I think Raylene is in the audience today—one of Lionel’s cousins; I do know the blood lines probably more than a lot of the young kids in the community. When they say to me, ‘How do you know that, Roma?’, I say, ‘Oh, well, this one’s connected here, and I understand all the connections’—not as much as I used to. Lionel tells the story of when his mum worked in the local doctor’s clinic in New South Wales up on the border. When the people came to take the children who were not full Aboriginal blood, she was told by the doctor and she hid her little kids under the willow branches. One day they got too close, so the kids took off and started swimming across the river. Lionel’s sister had asthma and she could not make it. So she was taken that day, and Lionel never saw his sister again. He was the older one in the family, a teenage boy, who forever felt the terror and fear that he should have actually done something more. It was a revolting story to be told. I pay my respects to Lionel and his family today, and I hope they are okay with me telling that story.

There is Violet’s story of Archie Roach being taken—she told me about the day when they came to the Fram mission and took Archie. There is even the story, more of today, of Ann Litster, who I worked with very closely and who is a fantastic lady working in the community still today, in the health service. Ann used to tell me. She would say, ‘Watch. Watch as you come with me, Roma, through the check-outs at the supermarket’. Dale was her husband, who has now passed away. She said, ‘They’ll put the money in Dale’s hand. Watch them connect with the skin’. And she said, ‘When I go through, watch them drop the money because my skin is dark and my husband’s is not’. I would actually watch that and see it play out. Until you have seen or experienced that racism that is kind of an unconscious bias—if that is the right term, I am not sure—then I do not think you can understand the challenges. But that is what we are here to do today, to really understand and move forward together—unity, not divisive behaviours.

I would like to pay respect to some of the names in my community who I work with. Whether it is the Roaches, the Couzens, the Atkinsons, the Bells, the Roses, the Clarks—with an ‘e’ and without an ‘e’; very important—the Harradines, the Wacketts, the McDonalds, the Saunderses, the Lowes, the Edwardses, the Chatfields, the Eccleses, the Briggses and so many more, some of them more new to the area than once upon a time. Some of these people that I have worked with over the years are doing amazing jobs, and it is to the future and the aspiration of our youth that we should turn our attentions. I look at the work done at the health service whilst I was there: setting up a playgroup; a men’s group, which is still run today by Aaron Hagan; and the influenza nights where we vaccinated people for flu. It was because of that that we had such great take-up of the COVID vaccine recently, because that is still happening today. Dr Hall, who I worked with for many, many years, is still going out to the community offering his service and should be commended. The maternal and child health nurse would come out, because people are just so much more comfortable with it being done at their communities than in the system.

I will just take a minute to ask for leave. There are so many more young people I would like to acknowledge for the good work they are doing. I have asked for the Treasurer’s permission to have leave to go a little bit longer.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave has been granted.

Ms BRITNELL: Thank you, because this is where I think the really important part of the discussion takes place, and that is with the young people. There are just so many. I look at Michael Bell with his wife, Sandra, and his sons, Micky and Billy, who do such a great job and showed us around when we came up into the community and looked at the great work they were doing at Budj Bim, now a World Heritage-listed tourism site. I think of girls like young Ivy Clark, who is working with the young children in the playgroup and other areas in the Kirrae Health Service that I worked at. You know, you might say, ‘Why do you have your own playgroup?’, but when I started there none of the women were taking their kids into the playgroups, so the children were not going because the mums did not feel welcome. We started a playgroup and we empowered the women to know that they are able to go out into the community and be as welcomed as everyone else. But it started by having a group that empowered people to feel safe together, and the mums and the children were able to partake in other programs there that developed confidence. It is about closing the gap, and we all know we have been working on that for a very long time, because the community of the Indigenous world having less life expectancy is just not acceptable and there is so much we can do in not only health but also education and other areas.

I would like to acknowledge in that instance the work that Wayne and Karen Harradine have done in the region around education—a lot of work by that couple. Then I look at the Litster family that I have already mentioned—Ann and Troy. Troy has been working for a long time, and Troy volunteers with the SES locally. His two daughters, Kiri and Skye, work with the Warrnambool City Council and do some tourism work with Flagstaff Hill from time to time. Tanaya Harradine is an amazing young girl who I worked so closely with from a very young age. What an amazing woman, who will take the Indigenous community by storm, I am sure, in the next few years, because she is a powerhouse, that one. I am really reluctant now that I have started naming people, because there are just so many: Denis Rose, Adeline McDonald, Locky Eccles—Locky and his daughter, Mel. It is the younger ones I want to focus on. Mel is now out there doing fantastic work, like Uncle Locky, learning the language and speaking at the welcomes to country. They are a fantastic asset to our communities. Tracy Roach’s young child, Mariah, has been working at the hospital for a long time now, doing a wonderful job. I am so proud. I remember Mariah coming to playgroup and drawing me a picture, which I still have many, many years on. Young Billy held an education session on making sure traditional lands are respected—for my son the other day, who is in civil engineering. It was just so lovely, because Tom and Billy would have known each other when they were little tackers. Trent, Bernie Clark’s young man, is doing a fantastic job.

I really have started something I probably should not have, because there are way too many people that I would love to acknowledge. But can I wrap up by just saying I really do want to see less of the shame job and so much more pride. The Indigenous community have so much to offer. We can all think we know it, but until you embrace it and until you really hold hands and walk together—as I am so proud to have done with you, Michael, today—you really cannot understand the challenges, the problems and the fear that has gone on. I really do want to thank everyone for working together. We are genuine, particularly on this side of the house as well as the other side of the house. I would like to work with you. I look forward to meeting those who I have not met and holding hands and walking together into the future.

Mr PALLAS (Werribee—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industrial Relations) (11:38): I at the outset would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which this Parliament stands, the Wurundjeri, and I pay my respects to their elders and ancestors past, present and future and Aboriginal elders of other communities who may be here today. I am so proud to be speaking on this bill today. This is a historic moment—a historic moment not only for this state but for this nation as we move forward together and, importantly, as we move forward in ways that effectively only our Aboriginal community can set the terms of.

It is a historic moment for our state and for our country, and I would like to acknowledge the member for Geelong’s very, quite frankly, powerful contribution just before as well as the tireless work of my colleague the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and of the First Peoples’ Assembly of course. The member for Geelong and the minister have been tireless advocates for Aboriginal Victorians, and I thank them both for their work, but I also thank them for the acknowledgement that the journey that we are on is really not ours to steer. It is for the Aboriginal community to determine the terms under which we engage around treaty and for us to be sensitive to their needs, to their aspirations and to their expectations of this process.

The introduction of the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022 into Parliament represents a significant milestone on this journey. The bill is a result of work alongside Victoria’s Aboriginal community through the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. Victoria is leading the nation in advancing Aboriginal self-determination by ensuring that Aboriginal Victorians are at the heart of decision-making on the matters that affect their lives. This is not an issue on which to be partisan, but I do acknowledge the work of previous champions of Aboriginal advancement, both in this chamber and in Canberra, champions like Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating and of course Patrick Dodson, who lived their values large in the pursuit of fairness. Politics needs more diversity and more First Nations voices, and I have been pleased in my time here to see champions like Jana Stewart enter the Senate, Sheena Watt enter the other place here on Spring Street, Lidia Thorpe here and in Canberra and ministers in Canberra like Linda Burney, Patrick Dodson and Ken Wyatt.

In the Uluru Statement from the Heart it says:

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished …

For generations First People have called for treaty to secure the structural change to improve the lives of First Peoples, to give them the freedom and the power to make their own decisions. Treaty brings us closer to the unfinished business of our state. It starts with the recognition of the historical wrongs and ongoing injustices, recognition that a future rooted in truth, justice, equality and respect comes hand in hand with self-determination. Treaty represents and presents an opportunity to accelerate Closing the Gap by building a relationship that acknowledges both the wrongs of the past and shared goals for the future. We are on a historic journey towards treaty. It is a profound opportunity for Victoria to recognise and to celebrate the unique status, rights, culture and histories of Aboriginal Victorians. It is also an opportunity for reconciliation and to heal the wounds of the past, and every Victorian has a role to play in reconciliation.

But without truth there can be no treaty. It is why Yoorrook Justice Commission was established—to investigate both historical and ongoing injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians across all areas of social, political, cultural and economic life. We know as a state, as a nation, we must do better. That means not only hearing Aboriginal voices but actually listening to them and taking meaningful action in order to achieve real and lasting change.

When I first stood in this chamber back in 2006 I reflected on a personal motto my father instilled in me. He would say, ‘If you give more than you get, you’ll never be rich, but you will always know the true value of things’. Give more than you get. Much has been taken from the Aboriginal community, and we are all the poorer for it. This is why we are here today. Treaty is about fairness. It is about righting wrongs. It is about doing things differently. There perhaps are some that are scared of this journey, of doing things differently, but in my experience doing things differently is usually the best way to make things better.

As many of you would know, treasurers have a reputation to not really like much in the way of risk, but while any action has risk, taking no action is its own risk too. No change means no progress. We cannot reconcile or heal what we have not resolved—the injustice, the harm, the hurt. Yet beyond the forward investments and the minutiae of budget papers exists the greater goal of government: that future generations have the ability to reach their true potential, by their hand and on their terms. As noted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the only way in which future generations can reach their true potential is when Aboriginal people have power over their own destiny. I would like to quote Marcus Stewart, Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung nation:

This is about stepping outside the colonial system … We’ve said to government, if you’re serious about treaty, you’ll do it our way, and to their credit, that’s what they’re doing. This is decolonisation in action.

The government is relinquishing some of its control and power … together we are creating new institutions that will be guided by Aboriginal lore, law and cultural authority that has been practised on these lands for countless generations.

We know treaty will change the cultural landscape of our state. It will change our collective identity. We know it will alter that forever—how we view ourselves and understand our identity, our history and our future. We know it will create a future where we give back and where First Nations communities have autonomy, power and self-determination. It will create a stronger, fairer Victoria for us all. Every Victorian should be proud of the progress that we have made towards treaty, truth and justice for Aboriginal Victorians. We are a government that prides itself on action, not just words but action delivered by a Victorian government in partnership with Victoria’s Aboriginal community.

Treaty is unfinished business. It is an opportunity to come to terms with our past and work together for our shared future. The cost for our society of not doing something critically important in this space is sometimes greater than the cost of doing something that is suboptimal and indeed less than effusive in its embrace. So we embrace treaty, and we embrace all the implicit obligations around the Aboriginal community driving this process. This is a historic opportunity to do something to make this state better, to invest in and support the community that has for too long and too often been treated as second-class citizens. This is a time to if not right the wrongs of the past, then at least to admit them, take responsibility for them, apologise for them and work to correct them. I will finish with a quote from Jacinta Chaplin, member of the First Nations’ Assembly and a Wadi Wadi woman:

The past defined where we are now. What we do next will define what we become …

History is calling. This is a historic day, and I encourage all members of this house to join me in support of this bill.

Mr RIORDAN (Polwarth) (11:48:338:): I rise today to join my coalition colleagues in supporting the process that the government is putting forward today in terms of how we bring together the old world with the new world with a modern world to a world that will better reflect and acknowledge and work towards accepting what is uniquely Victorian. There are traditions and practices and ways of treating land and treating people, going forward together, that have been lost to modern Victoria now for far too long. This new process will enable us to develop a new Victoria, a Victoria that will have traditions and customs that are unique to us and ways forward that we can all be very proud of into the future. The reality is that when different civilisations come together—different traditions, different pasts—you cannot undo what has happened in the past, but what you can do is get a better future that better acknowledges who was here and how they were here and the best parts of both worlds. I think that is something all of us have to work towards.

There is also the issue that many in mainstream Victorian society are still not part of this journey in a way that is going to be really useful going into the future. We do have to spend time not only working with traditional owner groups who, as the government has made very clear today, believe that this process is one that they have helped build and that they are happy to be part of, but we have also got a have a process that brings the majority of Victorians along. We do not want to see this as a point of conflict, and as both the Leader of The Nationals and the member for South-West Coast made clear, for the opportunity to get this right, to really faithfully and dutifully right the wrongs of the past, we have to have all sides of politics together. We have to have all sides of the house prepared to speak to and work on this process.

While some criticism has been made of our side of the house, I would also point out that in the true spirit of reconciliation, bipartisanship and bringing people together, it was somewhat disconcerting for me to learn that not only was the Treaty Authority signed in my electorate of Polwarth, down in Gadubanud country at Lorne, but the Premier was there and there was quite a lot of fanfare, but not only was this side of the house not invited to that even though it was in an area that we represent, it was also disturbing to know that many of the local Aboriginal community who make up that part of the world were not told about it or invited either. There is a challenge for all of us to at all times be mindful of bringing everyone along on a journey in a way that is open and transparent and that does not leave any room for dispute or conflict. We have to at all times understand that this process has been a good 200 years in making the mess and that to unwind that mess will take time. I think there is a general agreement, and one that I am very grateful for, from Indigenous communities that this is not going to be solved in 5 seconds and that we are going to have to take time and put effort from all sides into it.

The other interesting thing that we have to keep in mind of course is that over the 200-odd year journey of Victoria there have been many waves of new people coming in and everyone’s experience of that is from a very different perspective. As I spoke once to some people on this issue, you know, early settler people like myself from families that have been here a long time will have one perspective; others that perhaps came out as Vietnamese refugees or people that came in the postwar wave will all have different views and understandings of what has happened in the past—which makes it even more important that we bring everybody along on that journey.

In the short time I have left I do want to acknowledge some of the people that have really helped engage and inform me in this debate across my region. The first person I would like to acknowledge—and many in the gallery may know him—is John Clarke, who works a lot in the Colac area and I know right through western Victoria and who has been quite a leader, particularly in land management issues. I acknowledge John. We have had many a robust conversation, and I guess that is going to be part of the journey as we go forward—there will be robust conversations—but I acknowledge very much that John has been prepared to have those conversations. We do not always agree. We finish the conversation, but we can go back again. I really thank John. Whether we catch up having a coffee in Colac or talk on the phone in my office or wherever it may be, he has been a very useful source of information and one who I would put as a person who deeply believes in the need to educate and better inform people.

I would also like to acknowledge Ron Arnold, another traditional owner, based in Apollo Bay. Ron is an interesting character. He has a very unique perspective on life and on what a lot of these things mean to him and his family, and I acknowledge very much the time that he has given me in my role as a member of Parliament in better understanding the issues as he sees them.

Finally, I acknowledge Richard and Peter Collopy, who care very much about their part of the world and who have been deeply engaged in inland management and Landcare in the Hordern Vale area in particular and Cape Otway. These brothers, again too, have been very generous with their time for me and very prepared to give me a greater understanding, and of course it better informs the role of a member of Parliament when you have people prepared to talk like that.

Throwing back a bit further in time—and once again many in the gallery may be familiar with him—I go to one of the state’s earliest settlers in James Dawson. James Dawson was, sadly, unknown to me at all as a kid growing up in western Victoria, which is a great shame. He is one of the few people in early times who paid great attention to many of the issues that we are talking about today, and that of course is how poorly treated the First Peoples of Victoria were in those very early days of settlement, and particularly in western Victoria. There are a couple of things I would like to point out about James Dawson. I think that in this treaty process some of this may get a chance to be better aired and better understood, certainly by local communities.

First of all, there is the great monument that James Dawson built to the Aboriginal people in complete acknowledgement of the fact that they had had a very raw deal and were dispossessed of their land. The strange irony is that he was a very, very devout Presbyterian Scot, so I doubt he had much of a sense of humour, except for the monument that he built. He had a very strong public disagreement with many of the early settlers and he tried to convince them that they were not on the right track and needed to do things differently. In order to prove his point, in the cemetery where this monument is—and it is often lost to passing traffic, as the sign on the highway has now faded—it is the biggest obelisk in the cemetery. This cemetery is the place of final rest for many of the greatest, most well-known and respected, powerful and wealthy settlers of western Victoria and Victoria generally at the time. He deliberately and very publicly built a monument bigger than any of theirs that existed in the cemetery. He was very keen to put local language, local symbols and local customs on it. It is probably not as we would do it today, but it was an early settler’s view of sort of saying, ‘These people were here first. We do need to acknowledge them. We do need to think about them’, and he made that very, very public statement. The concept of the need for reconciliation—the concept of the need to write down, record and better treat the first custodians of this great place—has been around for quite some time. The fact that it is 100-odd years later that we are making steps is, I think, worthy of note.

The other great legacy that James Dawson left because of his early dealings, understandings and belief in what First Nations people had to say is the great and very famous artwork by Eugene von Guerard, who painted in great detail the landscape of Tower Hill. Many people in the gallery and in this chamber may well be aware that that artwork was used 100 years later by naturalists, environmentalists and others to fully replant and try to restore that space. Why did James Dawson do that? Because very quickly he realised that the landscape that was around and meant so much to Aboriginal people was being lost and he felt it was his obligation to properly record it and have it there. That was lost at the time on many of his fellow settlers, but it was not lost on us 100-odd years later. It is a fantastic and genuine capturing of the landscape, the plants, the animals and so on that were in the area.

James Dawson did much, and there is much we can learn from that early acknowledgement by some people of much that has been lost. I guess if this Parliament can move forward, take that spirit that has been around but not fully harnessed and work together with everybody, we will get a better and more unique outcome for Victoria.

Ms HUTCHINS (Sydenham—Minister for Crime Prevention, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice, Minister for Victim Support) (11:58): I too would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects. Aboriginal Victorians have been seeking an equitable and fair agreement with the state since before that dreadful day on Wurundjeri country in 1835 when John Batman took advantage of the people of the Kulin nation and created a sham, invalid treaty. Despite the fears and destructive attacks brought about by invasion, the dispossession of land and family, massacres, wars, the stolen generations, genocide and the current systematic colonisation and inequities, First Nations people in Victoria have held firm to their lore to develop culturally strong institutions such as the Treaty Authority.

The First Peoples’ Assembly has driven the process to establish the Treaty Authority while thinking outside the colonial system to put First Nations culture and people at its heart. I want to thank the First Peoples’ Assembly co-chairs, Marcus Stewart and Aunty Geri, for their incredible leadership and for their incredible powerful words here today. To all the members of the First Peoples’ Assembly: I want to acknowledge your courage, your leadership and your strength, every single one of you. I know that taking on this role has not been easy, and you have needed to demonstrate that commitment every single day. To the Treaty Authority and Interim Dispute Resolution Process Committee: thank you for your work and dedication led by chair Ngarra Murray. Thank you to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs; the former minister, Gavin Jennings; the Premier; and the Treasurer. Without all of the work that they have all done and without their commitment we would not be here today. They have been some of the people that have really made a commitment to get us here.

There was a forum back on 3 February in 2016 that was held down by the Yarra to hear directly from traditional owners and Aboriginal Victorians about self-determination. It was a fiery forum, to say the least, and I have got to say it was one where the concept of treaty was really, really pushed forward. It was one where we heard clearly that in order to really get behind self-determination and meaningful reconciliation we needed to take forward a treaty proposition. That request was taken back to the Premier and our cabinet and has clearly progressed to where we are today. There was not an argument, I have got to say, at the time. There was a lot of process to work through, being the first state in this country to pursue this, and it was really important to achieve true reconciliation. If we were to address the deplorable poor outcomes faced by Aboriginal Victorians, then treaty was necessary.

Over the course of the two years that followed that first forum we held forums across Victoria, and that culminated in the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 that passed the Parliament here in 2018. Important in that process was the embedding of Aboriginal ways of doing, cultural authority and Aboriginal lore. That theme of—let us call it what it is—self-determination has been carried into the design of the Treaty Authority and will be an integral part of its success. One of the key elements of the 2108 treaty act was part 2, the process for recognition of the Aboriginal representation body now known as the First Peoples’ Assembly. This law has worked well. The unique prescription by which the act did not create a body determined by government but allowed for the recognition of one by a process of self-determination was a first here in Australia. This allowed Aboriginal Victorians to create a voice that best suited Victorians and Victorian Aboriginals, one that has laid the groundwork for everything to come from then. Importantly this allowed for diversity of views among Aboriginal Victorians, particularly section 10 of the 2018 treaty act, which said:

The function of the Aboriginal Representative Body is to represent the diversity of traditional owners and Aboriginal Victorians in working with the State to establish by agreement elements necessary to support future treaty negotiations.

We need to ensure that we are embedding the differences that exist amongst community and making sure that they are heard in our way forward. I think our foundations around the Treaty Authority—in the way that it is truly unique, independent and will have oversight and an umpire arm—will ensure that we get those differences heard and balanced. The law allows for a diversity of voices, just like in this place. The diversity of views helps make better laws. When we make laws, it does not require the absolute agreement of everyone. Indeed when the commonwealth was established there was a lack of agreement about the model back then. If we do not follow through with the process we committed to in 2018, it will deny Aboriginal Victorians voice and power in their own futures.

I am really glad to hear that those opposite are supporting this bill today. That was not the case on the journey in the early days. I want to acknowledge the leadership of The Nationals, who have been on this journey with us for a lot longer than others on the other side. I think that this has been a really fantastic day here in the Parliament—to see the support for this bill go through.

The 2018 treaty act was certainly passed by this Parliament, and that was a statement of strength. It laid the foundation for what we are doing here today. It is the law of the state, and it states:

The Aboriginal Representative Body is the sole representative of traditional owners and Aboriginal Victorians for the purpose of establishing elements necessary to support future treaty negotiations.

The Aboriginal representative body, the First Peoples’ Assembly, has told us that they support this bill and that this is the most appropriate model for a Treaty Authority negotiating between the state and the assembly. It is therefore incumbent upon us to be faithful to the laws this government creates and listen to the assembly in good faith, as it represents the diversity of traditional owners and Aboriginal Victorians to this Parliament on this matter. I hope everyone in this chamber sees the way to make Victoria a better place and listens to our traditional owners.

I have also sometimes heard the idea that treaty is somehow in opposition to achieving practical outcomes to improve the experiences and the lives of Aboriginal Victorians. This is nothing more than a high school debating tactic. It is a line that people use as a throwaway—from someone who has not taken the time to listen deeply, hear and understand what the needs are. I have spent many years listening to Aboriginal Victorians: having lots of conversations, having my ear chewed off, being yelled at, but most importantly having really deep and meaningful conversations that I have been able to take into this place and produce into practical outcomes—real practical outcomes like a treaty structure. This was clearly communicated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which says:

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

And that is what we are doing exactly here in Victoria at a state level, and I am really pleased to see the new federal government is taking that up.

I finally want to conclude by saying what we are doing here today is incredibly important to the history of our state. We are reversing the power imbalances that have existed since colonisation and that have torn apart Aboriginal communities and families. Can I take the time to thank my Aboriginal justice adviser, Rachael Davies, for advising me and assisting me in all of the work that I do. I am so pleased to see this come about today. I congratulate everyone involved in getting us to this stage, and I look forward to implementing a treaty across this state.

Mr T BULL (Gippsland East) (12:08): It is a pleasure to rise and speak in support of the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022. Like other speakers before me I join in acknowledging our traditional owners and welcoming all elders who are in the chamber today and everybody from our Aboriginal community statewide.

As we have heard, this bill establishes the Treaty Authority under the Treaty Authority Agreement. It facilitates its operations by giving legal force to its activities. I note that the Treaty Authority that is established in this bill has been agreed to by the First Peoples’ Assembly and the state, which is one of the very, very key important steps that we should not be overlooking, and I congratulate all who have been involved in bringing that step to fruition. This bill does provide the necessary legal powers for the authority to facilitate its role in overseeing and assisting in treaty negotiations. I know other speakers have done this before but I just want to quickly put on the record the key roles of the authority, and that will be to, obviously, facilitate and oversee treaty negotiations, administer the treaty negotiation framework, assist parties to resolve disputes that may arise in negotiations—and I want to touch on that a little bit later—and carry out research to support and inform treaty negotiations.

It is very clear that over the journey thus far there has already been considerable discussion on what treaty will look like at the end of this process, and the bottom line is that I do not think anyone really yet knows the answer to the question of what it will look like in this state. There are differences of opinion that prevail today on what that may be and what it may look like. Over the course of this journey and in the period ahead there are still many negotiations to take place in relation to this, but the establishment of the authority is a key step in being able to mediate and resolve a lot of those differences of opinion and a lot of those different viewpoints. And that will be, I think, the most important role of this authority, because there are going to be different viewpoints and different ideas brought to the table; there is no doubt about that. And the matters will not always be easy to resolve. I think everybody acknowledges that, but as the previous speaker, the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, said—and being a former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs myself—we do not have to get to an end point where everybody is in absolute unison to bring in a treaty that will serve our Victorian Indigenous community well. We sit in here all the time and have differences of opinion on almost every issue. There are over 120 MPs in this place—128 in the Assembly and the upper house. I do not think there is a piece of legislation that has ever been through where there was not a particular element on which we had differences of opinion. And this will be no different, but it should not stand in the way of us being able to achieve the right outcomes. So those discussions will occur. I encourage everybody who is involved in those discussions to do it in a respectful way. Respect there will be differences of opinions, but angst and anger are not going to get us to the end result that we need. The Treaty Authority will have a key role in developing those discussions, and let us hope that with the support of everybody resolving a lot of those issues we can find a landing space that the majority are comfortable with.

I come from an electorate that is very, very rich in Indigenous history, and I guess my involvement with my local Indigenous community started with a young fella turning up to play at the Swan Reach Football Club. Our best players for many, many years were actually members of our Indigenous community, and growing up and playing football I developed some incredible friendships that are still very much alive today with members of the Aboriginal community, in particular the Gunnai/Kurnai people, through sport. That is obviously one of the great things through sport. As I said, those friendships are alive today, and when I played in the competition it was very rich in Indigenous players. We occasionally had our battles on the footy field, but we were also teammates. I think I have still got a bump on the back of my head from Alfie Hudson at Bruthen there one day.

A member interjected.

Mr T BULL: Yes, I probably did deserve it, but Alfie and I now are great mates. Actually if you walk into the foyer of my electorate office, Alfie has done this amazing painting for me. It is the first thing you see if you walk into my electorate office in Bairnsdale.

I want to just briefly touch on my family’s association with our local Indigenous community, and it goes back to 1882. It is an interesting little story, where my great-grandfather, who was captain of a ship that would go between Melbourne and Mallacoota to collect wattlebark for tanning, in a storm went ashore at Lake Tyers. When he woke up in the morning with the crew—this happened in the middle of the night—they could see sand dunes on the left and sand dunes on the right, but the entrance to Lake Tyers was closed. If it had been open when they beached the boat they would have sailed right into Lake Tyers. My great-grandfather—there were a couple of lives that were lost, tragically—spent a lot of time at that particular time at the Aboriginal settlement at Lake Tyers, who took him in and gave him a horse, and he was able to ride into Lakes and get supplies. He had to contact the families of those other sailors who had lost their lives in that accident, and he ended up spending a lot of time there at the settlement at Lake Tyers. In my great-grandfather’s memoirs, which I sat down and read from front to back about three years ago, he believes that the Bull family at Lake Tyers may have adopted their name from him. Now, he does not have anything to confirm that, and it is probably a question that will never be answered, but they were great friendships that he established and created there.

Talking of those friendships, I spoke about the connection through sport a little bit earlier, but it is interesting that now what I find is a lot of our local leaders within the Indigenous community in East Gippsland are the young men—there are also women—that I grew up with playing football. And now, by their own admission, they have a lot more interest in the local cultural heritage and history than they had when we were young blokes growing up and we were a bit footloose and fancy-free. For them to be able to relay their stories on to me now—and I can think of half a dozen names while I am standing here—is a terrific experience.

While the area that I represent in this Parliament is very rich in Indigenous history, part of that history is not great. Part of that history involves my electorate having a number of significant massacre sites, and that is part of our history that we need to recognise and observe as we move forward and develop our relationships into the future. Those situations that occurred in the past, as much as we hate that they happened, cannot be changed, and we need to work together and foster stronger relationships into the future. That is the sort of thing that I think goes to the heart of the treaty; it is being able to foster those relationships and recognise the bad times of the past but move forward with a much brighter picture.

We do need to do more in a number of areas, and Marcus commented on that this morning. They are not new words from Marcus; I have got to know him over the years. But in the areas of health outcomes and in the areas of educational outcomes we need to close the gap and do better for our Indigenous community. We have that Closing the Gap report that is presented to Parliament every year, and whilst that is great for us in here to be able to monitor and gauge that progress, I think, as our leader mentioned earlier, not all those indicators are heading in the right direction. That obviously is a red flag when we are not moving forward in relation to getting those outcomes we need.

I want to conclude by saying there is much that, I guess, needs to be resolved as we work together through this into the future, and I hope that those here today have got that message that we are prepared to work together. I look forward to working with local representatives from my area as we move forward to finally achieve the endgame. But this is an exciting day, it is an important day and it is a pleasure to stand here as the member for Gippsland East, representing Gunnai/Kurnai country, and commend this bill to the house.

Mr PEARSON (Essendon—Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Government Services, Minister for Creative Industries) (12:18): To begin with I would also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we are meeting, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, and I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

There is a heavy weight on all of us speaking today, with the significance and the momentousness of this occasion. This is a wonderful institution, the Parliament. It has been here for 170-odd years. It is steeped in the tradition of Westminster. But the significance of today is not about this institution; it is about the fact that we are bending this institution to reflect the fact that the power dynamic has shifted and changed, as it should and it must. We will never achieve our potential as a city or a state or a nation unless we have reconciliation, unless we have treaty, and there is an opportunity here in Victoria for Victoria to lead the nation.

Today is momentous not just for Victoria, important though that is. Today is a chance where we as a Parliament can signal to the rest of the nation that there is an opportunity lying before us to seize the moment, to recognise the fact that we can change forever relations with our First Peoples here in this nation. We can show that in Victoria it is done, it is being done, there is nothing to be feared, there is nothing to be frightened of; that this is an important day, and you can take this step with us.

At the end of the day this is about respect and it is about acknowledging the past wrongs, but it is also about having a dialogue with First Nations peoples, about trying to develop an appreciation and understanding for the way in which this land was cared for for tens of thousands of years before our arrival—before our invasion. It is about developing an appreciation for the way in which this land was cared for. It is a way in which to understand the way Indigenous culture thrived for thousands of generations. I think also it is about recognising that life is fragile and life is precious. Our moment here is fleeting in the scheme of things. When you think about the context of 40 000 years or 50 000 years, a parliamentary term is just a blink; it is just a moment. As Robert Caro, who wrote the great biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson, talked about, power reveals. So when you have power what do you choose to do with it? How do you choose to spend your time? What do you think is important? What do you think you should be doing? And what is going to be the mark that you leave behind? Jack Lang famously said to Paul Keating when he became a member of the House of Representatives in 1969: son, you might think you’ve got forever, but you do not have a second to lose.

From my perspective this is an opportunity for us to use this great gift of government, to try and right a wrong and to try not only to push our state on a different trajectory to reach reconciliation and treaty but to take the nation with us and to go forth with a level of confidence and certainty that this is the right thing to do and it is a fair thing to do, It is overdue, but we can do this together.

I am indebted to Rachael Davies, and the Minister for Corrections referred to Rachael. Rachel now works for the Minister for Corrections. In the previous parliamentary term Rachael worked with me. Rachael is a Palawa woman. She taught me; she educated me. She gave me Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu, which I found a revelation. All of us can learn so much if we just are prepared to listen, if we meet Indigenous Victorians together and are prepared to listen and to learn.

I am really pleased and proud that in more recent times I partnered with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to be able to bring back home Uncle William’s spirit through his painting, Corroboree (Women in possum skin cloaks),and the parrying shield. This is something incredibly significant for the Wurundjeri people, and this is something where, again, when the opportunity emerged I knew that if I did not take that opportunity, I would regret it. I knew that if I just sat on my hands and did not take the step as the Minister for Creative Industries to ensure that the state put forward a compelling offer to ensure this could be acquired—in conjunction with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation—I knew that I would regret it. Since it has been acquired I have been so pleased and so proud with what I and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs were able to achieve, because again I thought about what this means for future generations.

I was speaking with Uncle Bill Nicholson from the Wurundjeri people not long afterwards. He said to me, ‘Look, ultimately, really what this is about is we want non-Indigenous Victoria to care as much as we do about our culture and our history’. I think that there is an opportunity for us to work together and to find ways to develop greater levels of appreciation. Pascoe talks in Dark Emu about the devastating impact that disease and genocide had on communities, particularly in those early years, and the fact that so much of the history was just lost. So even when the gold rush came around, it was just forgotten; it had been significantly damaged.

I think what has been demonstrated today is that we can change the dynamic, we can change the power relationship, we can bend this great institution and we can find a way to work constructively, respectfully and collaboratively with First Nations peoples to empower First Nations peoples to achieve their potential, because when First Nations peoples reach their potential then we will reach our potential. We have lived diminished lives in this state and this nation for generations because we never had a treaty. We never respected the way in which Indigenous Victorians cared for this land for tens of thousands of years. We denigrated them, we ignored them or we just attacked them—or we murdered them. I think that now is the time when we can change things and we can change this nation forever. We can start to develop that greater level of appreciation and significance of the way in which this land was cared for.

I have great respect for this institution—I always have. I have recognised the fact that this institution has played a really important role in the development of the power of the state, but what I have learned in recent times is that this institution and the state have not acted in the interest of Indigenous Victorians. It has been used against and has actively worked against the interests of Indigenous Victorians. That is a fact; no-one can dispute that. What today means, though, is that we are starting to change and we are setting up a separate, parallel process. We are empowering Indigenous communities to be able to be in charge of their own destiny. We are shifting the power balance to them because that is what they are owed, that is what they are due. In doing so we empower ourselves, because they will teach us, in the same way I learned so much from Rachael. They will make us better, they will make us stronger, they will make us richer. We as a nation, by walking together, will achieve our potential. Again, with this work, with this agreement, we will change this nation. In generations to come people will look back on this day as being a momentous day for all Indigenous Australians because of what we have done as a Parliament. It is something so incredibly important. It is something I am so incredibly proud of.

I want to conclude. I want to acknowledge the great contributions of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the member for Sydenham and former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings. I want to also pay tribute to the great speech that we heard earlier today from my good friend the member for Geelong, as well as Aunty Geri’s and Marcus’s contributions earlier. It is so wonderful to see the floor of this place opened up to First Nations peoples. This is your place. This is our place. By working together we will change this nation.

Ms McLEISH (Eildon) (12:28): As a number of people may know, the electorate of Eildon straddles the Great Divide, and so with that we have to the north the Taungurung and to the south the Wurundjeri, and there is a very strong, rich history in my electorate. So I want to acknowledge, firstly, any Wurundjeri and Taungurung people who are here today—which I know there are—and equally recognise those from other areas that are here today that have joined this very big day in Parliament. And I certainly acknowledge the contributions that we heard from the floor of Parliament from Aunty Geri and from Marcus, which pave the way for where we are heading now.

There have been many wrongs—many wrongs—over the years. We have heard of those stories. They are tragic. They are unthinkable in today’s terms, but with them we have heard stories of resilience and of where First Nations people have started to take the lead and to move on and do some really terrific things. The bill we have before us today establishes the Treaty Authority, and this Treaty Authority will allow the framework for the conversations to really begin—the speaking, all the yarning that will happen and the truth telling. Also within that is dispute resolution; it is covered off. I know, I am sure, there will be some disputes here and there and that this authority will help be able to find a path forward to bring everybody in the same direction.

Within my electorate, as I have said, with the Taungurung and the Wurundjeri, there are a number of commonalities. Certainly the work that I see being done in local schools—driven by families, teachers and the schools themselves—has really started to make a difference: preserving the language and symbols and understanding the totems and what they mean. I have seen Aunty Lee Healy do her stuff in the Murrindindi shire and Brooke Wandin in Healesville and at the Healesville Primary School. I have been there when the children have sung particular songs that they have practised. It is terrific to see something that is simple with language, but getting kids to understand Bunjil and getting them to understand the totem of the area. It is such a significant one in that area. I know the crow is as well—I am not so fond of crows, but anyway. My property is overridden with crows, I think.

We have a very rich and significant history, and I am going to start with the Wurundjeri area in Healesville, because not only was that traditional Wurundjeri area but it was that place that Coranderrk was set up. Coranderrk was one of the reservations that people from the north, including the Taungurung, were herded down to. They were all pushed into that area. It is pretty horrific to imagine how it happened. Uncle Roy Patterson, a late Taungurung man, told me that the Black Spur, which we all know now, that beautiful iconic drive, was actually called the ‘Blacks Spur’ because they were the paths that the traditional custodians went across the mountains on in that area. He was very keen for me to tell people that that was the history. Despite some people thinking that that is quite offensive, he said, ‘No, this is what it was at the time. Please talk about that’. Horribly, the Taungurung and others were herded down to Coranderrk. As they set up things down at Coranderrk, within their community they started to get things sorted and organised. They had little villages, they had schools and then as they started to find a way forward again the unthinkable happened and children were removed. The horror of those stories, when you hear people talk about their grandparents and what they experienced, is really quite powerful.

I want to mention first of all a couple of people that I have had a lot to do with. Aunty Dot Peters, the late Dorothy Peters, I met when I was a candidate. Aunty Dot was very big on promoting the culture that they had. She did a lot of work with basket weaving and students, but equally she was an advocate. In today’s terms we could not imagine this, but the service men and women who were Aboriginal who fought and went to war beside everyone were not recognised when they came back. This happened for a long time. In fact there was a gentleman, Thomas Bungalene, from Gippsland, who was born in 1847 and went to war on one of the first warships. A century and a half ago we had a lot of Indigenous people, the Aboriginals, go alongside others and they were not acknowledged. This was allowed to continue to 2006; I think it just was not on people’s radar for a while. But Aunty Dot absolutely pushed this. She met with the Healesville RSL—Sam Halim, who is at Century House at Badger Creek now, and Brian Luscombe, also at Healesville—to push this and have the first service to recognise the Aboriginal service men and women, and now it is at the Shrine. It is a big event. It is fabulous event. I go every year. Aunty Dot always went. This year her brother Eric attended. Usually Andrew Peters, her son, would come along. I know Andrew quite well and have so much respect for him and Aunty Dot for what they did. Aunty Dot’s father died on the Thai–Burma Railway, and this sacrifice was not acknowledged. They had not received any of the support offered to other relatives of those who were killed. This was the wrong that she managed to have righted. I thank Aunty Dot so much for that.

Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin—everybody knows Aunty Joy; she is very active. One of the things I was really pleased to see a couple of years ago was her granddaughter Chenile Chandler sing the Demons’ theme song in traditional language. That made me smile. One of Aunty Joy’s other granddaughters, Sophie Young, is a teacher at Woori Yallock Primary School. A couple of years ago she designed the jumpers for the footy—for the Indigenous round—for Healesville and for Woori Yallock. It was interesting; Aunty Joy had granddaughters on both sides, both teams.

Uncle Dave Wandin has done some fantastic work with cool burning, and it has just been the best thing that has happened to him, how he has grown and matured in his presence and understanding. It has been fabulous. I heard him talking the other day about how we walk through this process together, how we manage the land going forward together.

Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville as well—Aunty Lois has done some terrific work and partnered recently with the Parliament of Victoria, with the Aboriginal change makers program, which is an educational resource.

I want to zip over the divide now to Taungurung. There had not been so many Taungurung people living on country, because they had been herded down to around Healesville. In recent years they have become very organised. Full credit to them, because they have done a lot of work to recognise their history. We have had two great art installations in Yea. The community loved both of the designs that were put forward. They thought they were only getting one. They could not decide, and they managed to get a second grant. Angela ten Buuren, who is one of the Franklin crowd, has done a fabulous job working with the Yea community group to actually honour the Taungurung history there. These were very significant projects, and I have spoken about these before. One of the projects is the art installation Dugaluk. Doogallook is a large farming property, but unbeknown to me, ‘dugaluk’ actually means ‘croaking frogs’. That was something that I learned. They have in the main street an installation of people sitting—it looks like by a fire—and at night when it is lit up it actually looks a little bit like a corroboree. It is really quite terrific. The other one is the Gurrong dharrang, the metal scar tree. My pronunciation is not perfect. That is outside the wetlands as well.

When they installed those we had at the wetlands a fabulous display of foods and medicines, simple stuff that was so easy and made so much sense. A lot of this history and culture really needs to be imparted to kids as well. They need to know the wrongs that were done, and they also need to know the great things about the culture that some of us have seen quite a lot but others would be very, very unfamiliar with.

I do want to mention too that things have not been all going in the right direction. We have educational outcomes that are not what they should be. The incarceration rate is higher, and I think we have really got to do a lot of work to make changes to this, to what is happening, because we do not want these things to become generational and continue to the next generation and the next generation—‘This is what happens’. We need to change this, and some serious work really needs to be done on educational outcomes for children at kindergarten and primary school. One of the things, as I said, that I really love across my electorate is the work that is being done with language and culture, and I hope that that becomes much more the norm across the state. It was very pleasing that I could speak on this bill today.

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (12:38): Before I begin my contribution in detail, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which this Parliament is built, and they are the people of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung. I want to acknowledge all elders of the past and present and those emerging, and I would also like to acknowledge all of the First Peoples present here in the gallery and around this precinct here today and of course any other elders present with us here today.

I am moved to speak on this historic bill—and when I say ‘moved’, I mean quite emotionally moved—a bill which will support the establishment of a new Treaty Authority to oversee future treaty negotiations between the state and Victoria’s First Peoples, a practical, tangible legal framework to make the necessary progress to right the wrongs of the past. But we know that within that there has been a lot of emotion, a lot of tears and a lot of reflection across all of us to get to this point. We know of course that we have needed to move beyond words. Words provide a healing opportunity, provide a reconciliation opportunity, but at the end of the day we have just got to get on with it and make the changes that will make the absolute difference to your people.

I do want to also acknowledge that land was never ceded. I think that is an important statement for me to make in this place. I would like to also quote from Uncle Andrew Gardiner, of course, as one of the First Peoples’ Assembly representing the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, the people who not only own this land that I am sitting on but are also the owners of the land on which my electorate is based. He said:

The Treaty Authority Agreement is another historic marker along the process for our people in negotiating their Treaties with the State Government and another step closer for the Assembly in achieving that goal.

It is ambitious and historic, but there is so much more to be done, and we have to acknowledge that. When we stand up here today and make the statements that we all want to make to embrace this as an opportunity, we need to understand that every single day the work starts again, because it is not over until it is over, and it is over when you tell us.

Victoria, of course, is the first and only jurisdiction to action both the treaty and truth elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Through this bill and through the Yoorrook Justice Commission—I am sorry; this is not about me—as I said earlier, we have moved beyond words. Action is absolutely what we need to deliver, and I am very pleased that it is this fine Labor government that is actually doing that work. I do want to acknowledge the fine work of the current Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and also of course those two others that predated her and did considerable work before today, and they are the member for Sydenham and Gavin Jennings.

I want to also say that there is one message that I have talked about today with a number of members of the First Peoples’ Assembly. And the comment that I made was essentially that I hope today is everything you want it to be and everything you need it to be. So to that end I want to acknowledge the following members of the assembly, and of course some of them had the opportunity to address this chamber this morning: Uncle Andrew Gardiner, Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung; Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Bangerang and a Wiradjuri elder; Aunty Muriel Bamblett, here as Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Boon Wurrung; Rueben Berg, Gunditjmara; Ngarra Murray, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Dhudhuroa and Wiradjuri; Tracey Evans, Gunditjmara; Kaylene Williamson, Gunai Kurnai; Leanne Miller, Dhulanyagen Ulupna of the Yorta Yorta people; Marcus Stewart, Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung nation; Alister Thorpe, Gunai, Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara; Dr Carolyn Briggs AM, Boon Wurrung; Esmeralda Bamblett, Bangerang, Wiradjuri and Taungurung; Matthew Burns, Taungurung; Trevor Gallagher, Gunditjmara; Travis Morgan, Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba; Dylan Clarke, Wotjobaluk; Jacinta Chaplin, Wadi Wadi; Jason Kelly, Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba; Melissa Jones, Latje Latje and Wotjabuluk; Raylene Harradine, Dja Dja Wurrung, Latje Latje and Wotjabuluk; Trent Nelson, Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta; Alice Pepper, Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti, Arrernte, Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung; Peter Hood, Kurnai with connections to Yorta Yorta, Bangerang, Taungurung and Wurundjeri; Troy McDonald, Gunai Kurnai; Aunty Charmaine Clark, Gunditjmara; Aunty Donna Wright, Gunditjmara; Jamie Lowe, Gunditjmara; Jordan Edwards, Gunditjmara, Arrernte and Wadawurrung; Uncle Michael ‘Mookeye’ Bell, Gunditjmara; and Sean Fagan, Wadawurrung.

I have said that because you are all the peoples who exist in this great state, and it is an acknowledgement of you and all of you. But I also want to acknowledge the work of Jill Gallagher, who many here today have acknowledged, the former treaty advancement commissioner, and all of the fine people associated with getting us to this place today.

I am probably finishing at a point that I never thought I would finish at because I have a different set of notes from when I started my comments. But, hey, this is a truly unique situation. It is a great opportunity for us to go far beyond and for each of us to lay a foundation stone for the trust that needs to come out of this process. I think that was the word that was used earlier today in this chamber, I think Marcus may have raised the issue of trust. Trust can often take backward steps when relationships are tested, ideas are tested and disagreements often come out of very trying experiences as we move forward. No doubt there will be many of those conversations and disagreements amongst all of us as we move forward, but ultimately goodwill has to be the lining through which we proceed, and that is what is needed to ultimately drive us all to achieve the outcomes that we need to achieve.

I am absolutely confident that everyone here today will in the future be measured by the need to always demonstrate confidence, trust and goodwill. It is incumbent on all of us to do that. I say that because to a degree it is easy for all of us to come in here and talk. But I know we have only got here because of the hard work—and I hope you do not mind, Acting Speaker, that I am addressing the gallery directly—and the absolutely significant amount of work that you have done to get us here today. Trust is what we will all be measured by and ultimately what we deliver, and the progress has to be linear. There will be false starts, but ultimately it is about getting to where you want to be, and we need to ensure that we come along, learn and get you there.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) (12:48): I want to begin in speaking on behalf of the Greens to the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022 by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that this Parliament is on, the Wurundjeri and Woi Wurrung people. I want to pay my respects to their elders past and present, to those who are here today, to all members of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and to all First Nations people who have worked so hard to develop this legislation and progress treaty in Victoria. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land, and I think it is important to state in this chamber that sovereignty has never been ceded, and it is so critical to make sure that that point is made here, particularly in relation to treaty.

The Greens warmly welcome the introduction of this bill. The authority is the centrepiece to the treaty process and is critical to its success. I really want to thank the co-chairs, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson and Marcus Stewart, for your inspiring speeches and wisdom imparted to us today. Treaties are fundamental—fundamental to healing the deep wounds caused to First Nations peoples and communities by the colonisation of this land. The horrors of colonisation cannot be understated: stolen land, massacres, communities taken away from their land and being forced to live on missions, children stolen from families, cultural practices and language forbidden to be practised.

Yet First Nations people of our state and our country live on. With pride and perseverance they have called and are calling for rights and justice. It gives me great pleasure to tell the First Nations people that we hear those calls—loud and clear do we hear those calls—and as a Parliament today we act and as a community we walk together. That is why this bill and treaty are just so important. They are a way to begin to fix the wrongs that have occurred, to address the wrongs. They are an agreement between the government and First Peoples where on equal footing parties negotiate reparations, rights to land and water, rights to self-government and rights to economic opportunities. It is an opportunity to negotiate how the story of this state, its landscapes and its institutions can be revised to reflect the true history of our state and of the land that we are on and not the whitewashed version that has been told for the past few hundred years. Treaty is an opportunity to heal and to create a better future based on mutual respect, on rights and on empowerment of the First Peoples of this land.

It has been welcome to note that in this debate there is agreement across parties, government and opposition. Certainly the Greens are strongly supportive of treaty. We are strong advocates for treaty. There is no stronger advocate within the Greens, I must note, than my former state colleague, now senator, Lidia Thorpe, who has been calling for treaty and justice inside and outside Parliament. It has been incredible to see in Victoria and across the country the movement of elders, of community leaders, of clans, of First Nations, of young people and of grassroots communities who have fought for decades for rights and self-determination and who have elevated calls for treaty. It has been so amazing to see and it is so incredible to see that we are taking these steps today.

In the bill itself, as outlined in the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 and further articulated in the Treaty Authority Agreement established in this bill, the role of the Treaty Authority is to facilitate and oversee treaty negotiations, administer the treaty negotiation framework, assist parties to resolve disputes which may arise in treaty negotiations and carry out research to support and inform treaty negotiations. This is the cornerstone body in the treaty process. The independence of this authority and ensuring that it is empowered to uphold lore as well as Western law and cultural authority is absolutely critical to the treaty process. This will help decolonise this process to the best extent possible in the current circumstances.

The bill establishes the novel legal arrangements of the authority as an unincorporated body with the roles and responsibilities of a body corporate. This will hopefully provide the legal parameters to secure its independence. We strongly welcome that the Treaty Authority’s funding is established in legislation, ensuring that there is limited interference from government without the accountability process of Parliament. It is so important that that funding is not beholden to budget cycles.

The bill is somewhat brief. The detail of the Treaty Authority’s process for the establishment, structure and accountability measures is contained within the Treaty Authority Agreement made between the state and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. The agreement lays out important processes and tenets for the five authority members to be selected and to operate under. The tenets of upholding self-determination and empowerment of First Peoples, independence and impartiality, accountability, relationship building, facilitation and integrity, as well as the members’ cultural knowledge, wisdom, humility, technical competency and experience, are all deeply critical criteria. We support the tenets of this agreement wholeheartedly.

We do have some concerns regarding the implementation of the tenets of the agreement. We have seen in the establishment and operation of other bodies, certainly in the truth and treaty process, that some have been set up in a way that some First Nations peoples do not consider to be fair, equitable and representative. For example, there are many nations that have been excluded from the First Peoples’ Assembly for years, and whilst there has been progress made to provide an avenue for representation, there remain significant concerns and barriers to their involvement. There are some nations without the direct secretariat funding needed to take the necessary steps to work through the administrative processes. Some of the funds from the nation-building package for non-registered Aboriginal party nations have not necessarily flowed through to reach these communities who are in desperate need of resources. This really goes to the importance of ensuring that within the act there is fairness and equality for all parties and traditional owners. Put simply, we cannot have a process that undermines the treaty process.

The Treaty Authority must be the circuit-breaker in correcting course and re-establishing a treaty process that acts in accordance with the honourable principles and tenets laid out within the treaty act and within the Treaty Authority Agreement. It is absolutely critical to the success of the authority and to the treaty process for all First Peoples. It must be a body trusted by all nations to uphold the tenets of impartiality and uphold self-determination and empowerment of all peoples. Little is more important to the integrity of the treaty process. The values and the equality for all First Peoples must also be extended to the administration and the self-determination fund which this bill establishes as a responsibility of the Treaty Authority. The fund must be of significant size and be fairly managed if it is to operate in accordance with its legislated obligation in the treaty act to create equal standing between state and parties.

And let me be clear: when we are talking about the state, with all its staffing, legal experts and financial resources, being on equal standing with parties, including nations who do not have those things or have little of those things, equal standing is a critical legislated obligation agreed to by this government that we expect to be fully met with the self-determination funds, and that means significant funds for First Peoples for equal staffing, skilling, legal advisers and community consultation for all applicants to the treaty negotiation. The distribution of self-determination funds must be impartial, fair and equitable. Now more than ever we need a commitment from everyone involved in this process to right this wrong, to ensure that the Treaty Authority brings the impartiality and the commitment to fairness and self-determination for all traditional owner groups that they have not had so far.

Today I would like to conclude by saying that the Greens will continue to fight for treaty and for this process. We will continue to hold government to account and push them to make sure that there is integrity in this process so that the principles and values and tenets that are legislated are being implemented in the bodies and in the framework. I noted before that all parties in this place are supportive of this bill and of treaty. I note that there will be some voices in this Parliament and outside who are not supporting treaty or who have dismissed it as symbolism. These voices tend to go missing a lot when it comes to things like the funding needed for Aboriginal services, whether it is for health, whether it is for housing, whether it is for legal and justice services or whether it is for building capacity. It is so interesting how the voices that dismiss things like treaty or other measures as symbolism go missing when the dollars are there to be divvied up, so I would not give too much credence to those voices who are opposing this process in Parliament today.

We will continue to fight for an inclusive, fair and just treaty process. I commend the bill to the house. This is such an important step forward for what has been missing in our state and in our country since colonisation and what has been fought for for decades: treaty.

Sitting suspended 1.00 pm until 2.00 pm.

Business interrupted under sessional orders.