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Speech on First Nations justice

4 February 2021

Mr Speaker, I rise to speak about the growing list of sites across Queensland where First Nations peoples are standing their ground against continued dispossession of their land and culture. 

There’s a common thread in these struggles: Labor’s habit of dismissing and belittling First Nations people’s concerns if they stand in the way of their projects and big corporate donors.

In Gympie, the Bruce Highway Expansion is threatening to destroy the Djaki Kundu site. Local elders have been camping out since January to defend this scared healing place from destruction.

In Ipswich, elders have been camping out at the Deebing Creek mission site since 2019, defending land from a property development expansion. A Yuggera elder from Deebing Creek was among those climate protesters at parliament house yesterday

On Minjerribah, the Quandamooka Truth Embassy has been set up at Point Lookout, to prevent the development of a tourist whale interpretive facility. 

You’d think that this government would have learned a lesson from their Labor colleagues in Victoria, who approved the destruction of sacred Djap Wurrung trees. Or their Labor colleagues over in WA, who are now responding to the destruction of the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara.

I’ve been told by Ministers in this chamber that by supporting the elders occupying land at the Djaki Kundu site, we were encouraging inter-community conflict. 

But in circumstances like these, where community members care so deeply about the issue that they camp out to protect the land for days, months, years - why would the Government so brazenly claim community support? Why would they openly belittle and dismiss people’s concerns as irrelevant and illegitimate? 

The fact is, what Labor really cares about is the profits of their mining and property developer mates, and rushing ahead with highway expansions that suit their political agenda.

So here’s what they do.

They’ll selectively rely on a completely broken federal system of native title when it suits their purposes.

They choose to dismiss local Indigenous elders’ concerns if they get in the way of their projects and big corporate donors.

They chose this when they extinguished native title and approved the Adani Carmichael mine. 

They chose this when they approved the Deebing Creek priority development area. 

When they approved the Ministerial Infrastructure Designation on Minjerribah. 

When they chose to build a highway ramp through a site of significance to the Kabi people.

If this government really cared about First Nations justice in this state, they’d listen to the whole community - instead of going with whatever suits them and their big corporate mates.

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