Victorian government says compulsory land acquisition and reparations are still on the agenda

The Jacinta Allan government keeps options open in controversial indigenous treaty negotiations.

Victorian government says compulsory land acquisition and reparations are still on the agenda
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The Victorian government has not ruled out the possibility of transferring compulsorily acquired private property to Indigenous groups or establishing designated parliamentary seats for Indigenous members.

Treaty and First Peoples Minister Natalie Hutchins, speaking at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing about the state’s treaty process, stated that various measures, including reparations, were still being considered.

When asked if the government would exclude the possibility of dedicated Indigenous seats in the Victorian parliament ahead of treaty negotiations later this year, Hutchins responded that it was premature to make any determinations.

“After 200 years of colonisation, where this state took away lands in the settlement, murdered people, and took away culture and language, we are not going to be ruling anything in or out as we go to the negotiation table in regards to treaty,” she said.

However, she noted that this idea had not been specifically supported by Indigenous representatives.

“That has not been an expressed desire that has been put to me by First Nations people,” she said. In fact, I think they think that our places in the lower and upper houses here are actually quite aggressive places that they would rather not be a part of.”

Hutchins was also questioned about whether the government could transfer compulsorily acquired private land to Aboriginal groups or other entities but did not provide a definitive answer.

“The focus that we have on Treaty is about building a new pathway going forward with Aboriginal people,” she said.

When pressed on whether a $41 million budget allocation to “enable increased Traditional Owner access to water and decision making in water management” would be used to purchase water for Indigenous groups, Hutchins deferred the question to Water Minister Harriet Shing, stating, “We don’t actually determine the percentage of funds that will be used to buy water.”

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Peter Walsh, criticised the lack of concrete answers.

“We should have received answers today, instead a Minister who is meant to represent the interests of Victorian Aboriginal people hid behind the ‘that’s not in my portfolio’ excuse,” Mr Walsh said.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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