Today, the SA Parliament passed the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill, which allows the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation to dismiss the community-elected APY Executive Board for any reason he deems fit.
Existing provisions under the original APY Land Rights Act provided for procedural arrangements and conditions under which the APY Executive Board could be dismissed. Under changed provisions introduced in 2014, which included a sunset clause that is due to expire on 1 July 2017, the Minister was granted unfettered powers for a specified period of time. Through today’s amendment of the Act, these provisions and unbridled ministerial powers have been cast in stone.
Sue Tilley of Uniting Communities says, ‘The news of this amendment to the APY Land Rights Act has come as a shock to many APY Lands residents and Traditional Owners who say that there was no discussion with them about this change to their own Act when they welcomed the SA Government’s Country Cabinet onto their country just a few weeks ago. They are deeply concerned about the lack of respect that they have been shown and many view this move as an attack on their autonomy and standing as respected community leaders. Some community residents have said that this move will undermine the confidence of the recently elected APY Executive. Actions such as this serve to feed the growing disaffection and lack of trust that remote communities increasingly feel towards government.’
She went on to highlight that, ‘Overriding the legitimacy of an Anangu-elected body – more especially in light of the recent Reconciliation Week celebrations, the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the current discussions about Constitutional recognition and a treaty – does little to enhance reconciliation.’
For media comment:
Manager of Aboriginal Policy and Advocacy, Uniting Communities
Sue Tilley – 0437320954
20th June 2017