Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:45): I rise to speak on the final report of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee. Indeed, as the member for Heysen has outlined, it is a sad day because it essentially signals the absolute end of that committee, which was wound up earlier this year. I served on the committee previously and got around the state—the little bit of travel that I did. I wish I had the opportunity to do more, and it would have been more if the committee had still been in place. We visited Ceduna, Yalata, Koonibba and all around the West Coast and obviously had hearings with people there. We had some informal and formal meetings and also had many formal meetings here in Adelaide hearing evidence around the various subjects of the committee.
The inquiry around the Aboriginal governance I found extremely interesting. We were requested, under the rules of the committee, to review governance standards in South Australian Aboriginal community-controlled organisations. It was requested that the committee undertake this review, under the former government, on 1 February 2021. The committee formally resolved to undertake the inquiry on 15 February 2021.
In particular, the committee was asked to consider the key elements of a comprehensive governance capacity-building framework that will support South Australian Aboriginal organisations and corporations to deliver on Aboriginal community aspirations for self-determination. It was outlined what this committee may look at, and it included what policies and processes will best support directors and boards to meet their statutory and financial obligations and oversee the management of their organisations.
It was also to consider what policies and processes will best support directors and boards to ensure culturally safe processes and also governance structures that enable South Australian Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and corporations to maximise economic opportunities for the benefit of their communities. It also looked at governance structures that enable South Australian Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and corporations to maximise cultural opportunities for the benefit of their communities. It also looked at best practice in training and mentor supports appropriate for the boards of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and corporations.
It also looked at examples of good governance in First Nations organisations nationally and internationally that have local relevance, including practical examples of how to implement good governance principles such as accountability, transparency, integrity—including management of real or perceived conflicts of interest—cultural authority, efficiency, leadership, culturally safe processes and incorporating Aboriginal decision-making principles. What was also under investigation were the specific pathways to support young Aboriginal people and Aboriginal women to step into leadership roles in their communities.
The committee was advertised across the board in metropolitan and regional publications as well as on the committee's website, and obviously it went through the pretty standard submission process of asking certain people to write in with their submissions.
The initial report, an interim report, was tabled on 26 October 2021, and on 18 February 2022 we received responses to that interim report from the then minister with that function, former Attorney-General the Hon. Josh Teague MP. The committee also received an interim response to its interim report from the then commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Ken Wyatt MP.
As has been said, the committee was readvertised under the new government; however there were no further written submissions. On 15 November 2022 the final report was tabled, and there were four recommendations, as follows:
1. The committee recommends that the Trustee Act 1936 (SA) be reviewed by the Attorney-General with a view to amendments to increase accountability in relation to trusts that contain public moneys, whether from state or federal sources (for example native title compensation moneys), to apply to trusts already established under that legislation.
2. The committee also recommends that the Trustee Act 1936 (SA) be amended to offer inexpensive mechanisms for beneficiaries (including common law holders) to inspect the records in relation to the management and expenditure of trust moneys being invested on their behalf. The proposed Western Australian charitable trusts legislation may provide the Attorney-General with a model for potential reforms in the South Australian jurisdiction.
3. The committee recommends that the Attorney-General introduce a bill that amends the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) to increase oversight and dispute intervention powers for the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs. The committee encourages the parliament to pass the previously proposed reforms provided for in the Associations Incorporation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2021 in order to increase the transparency of Aboriginal incorporated associations for community members.
4. The committee also recommends that the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, within Consumer and Business Services, be resourced to provide regular governance training and education to Aboriginal community-controlled associations around their obligations under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA). This includes providing training on any new amendments arising from the proposed reforms, on good governance practices and on communication. The committee recommends that such training include the provision of necessary template documents, including flowcharts and visible representations of requirements which can be tailored to the particular association.
Earlier this year, in February, the Hon. Andrea Michaels, the Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, responded to the committee's recommendations 3 and 4, and the minister supported both recommendations in principle. On 14 March 2023 the Hon. Kyam Maher MLC, Attorney-General, responded to the committee's recommendations 1 and 2, but the Attorney-General did not support the implementation of recommendations 1 and 2.
I found it concerning that those first two recommendations were not supported by the Attorney-General, because that was part of the whole point of having the governance inquiry, and I think it showed, apart from the other inquiries, including the heritage inquiry that was conducted as well, the excellent work of this committee getting out and about, talking to communities, talking to associations and talking to individuals and having individuals present to the committee.
Sadly, some alarming issues came up, like boards not having meetings for 20 years, and issues around general governance. It does not matter where the money is going, we must know where public money is going, there must be accountability.
I think this committee did great work researching that, and I applaud some of the other initiatives around education in communities, but we have lost all that communication because the committee has been wound up and we have not been able to reach out to do that valuable work of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee. As with the member for Heysen, I think it is a sad day that that committee has now wound up and we lose the opportunity to do that valuable work into the future.