Jobs Events Advertise

Thorpe vows to fight for First Peoples' rights in federal water plan

Giovanni Torre -

Senator Lidia Thorpe has urged the federal government not to miss the "opportunity to deliver on their commitments to First Peoples regarding water rights" presented by the Water Amendment (Restoring our Rivers) Bill 2023.

The Bill, which is currently before the parliament, is "a long-overdue opportunity to update legislation, policy and resourcing arrangements to ensure they address the enduring rights and aspirations of First Peoples in the Murray Darling Basin", Senator Thorpe said on Monday.

On Friday the Senate inquiry report into the Bill was tabled in parliament, with a range of recommendations put forward by the committee and crossbench.

Senator Thorpe's additional comments outlined what she said needs to be done in the Bill to address First Peoples water injustice.

The Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman and independent Victorian Senator representing the Blak Sovereign Movement said her proposals build off decades of advocacy and have support from a broad range of First Peoples bodies and individuals, as well as environmental groups, irrigators, legal experts, and government bodies, including the SA Royal Commission (Commissioner Bret Walker SC, 2019) and Productivity Commission's Basin Plan Implementation Reviews in 2018 and 2023 (interim report).

"To First Peoples, the earth is our mother. Water is the lifeblood that runs through Country, connecting clans and songlines while nourishing the land," she said.

"Since time immemorial, the knowledge and expertise of First Peoples has kept the lands and waters in the Murray Darling Basin in optimal health, while sustaining the cultural, social, and economic well-being of communities who live there.

"This Bill as it stands represents the latest iteration of the colonial government's exclusion of First Peoples from water management and the denial of our Sovereignty and rights to care for Country."

Senator Thorpe said that throughout the Senate inquiry process, there was unanimous agreement "from First Peoples and our representative bodies, environmental groups, irrigators, and legal experts, about what needs to happen to this Bill to strengthen our water rights and deliver outcomes for our people".

"It is critical that the Albanese Government and Minister (Tanya) Plibersek do not miss this opportunity to fulfil some of the big commitments they have made promising water justice for First Peoples. I will not let this be another broken promise from the government, who talk big yet continue to exclude us and deny our Sovereign rights to manage Country," she said.

"First Peoples in the Basin have enduring Sovereign rights and cultural obligations to manage and care for our lands of waters. These rights are outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), to which Australia is a signatory, and must be embedded within this legislation.

"I urge the government to amend the Bill to address the recommendations made by the Senate committee as well as further recommendations made by myself, which have the backing of numerous key stakeholders, to strengthen First Peoples rights and ensure the health of the rivers is restored."

Senator Thorpe also called on the government "to make good on their other promises and begin a Treaty process immediately, so that each Sovereign language group can self-determine their own aspirations in relation to water access, use and ownership".

Minister Plibersek told National Indigenous times that the Restoring Our Rivers Bill "will mean healthier rivers for everyone, including First Nations".

"After years of stagnation under the Liberals and Nationals, the Albanese Government is also delivering $40 million of water entitlements for the benefit of Aboriginal people across the Murray-Darling Basin," she said.

It is understood the government will give consideration to any proposed amendments to the Bill.


Rolfe to wrap up evidence in Walker death inquest
An inquest into the death of an Indigenous teenager is set to wrap up after 18 months as evidence from the police officer who sh...
Neve Brissenden 1 Mar 2024
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation strikes deal for "equal footing in future decision-making" over Murujuga country
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation has defined a new approach to agreement making in Australia, following the signing Thursday of a...
Giovanni Torre 1 Mar 2024
Court finds Youpla misrepresented itself as an Aboriginal-owned or managed company
The collapsed funeral fund Youpla misrepresented itself as Aboriginal owned or managed, the full Federal Court ruled on Thursday...
Dechlan Brennan 29 Feb 2024
Clean energy toolkit launched to drive sustainable development
In a year-long effort, the recently unveiled Community Energy Planning Toolkit presents a seven-step guide for First Nations com...
Joseph Guenzler 29 Feb 2024

   Giovanni Torre   

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation strikes deal for "equal footing in future decision-making" over Murujuga country
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation has defined a new approach to agreement making in Australia, following the signing Thursday of a...
Giovanni Torre 1 Mar 2024
Funding boost expands Junior Ranger program to 50 new sites
The Federal government announced on Thursday that it is expanding the Junior Ranger program, offering on-Country learning to Abo...
Giovanni Torre 29 Feb 2024
Man charged with murder of young Indigenous woman in Kununurra
A young woman who was attacked in Kununurra last September has died, leading WA Police to upgrade charges against her alleged as...
Giovanni Torre 29 Feb 2024
Lawyers representing family of Ms Dhu to meet with WA government over compensation
Lawyers representing the estate of the late Julieka Dhu, who died in police custody in 2014, will be in Perth from next Wednesda...
Giovanni Torre 29 Feb 2024