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UN rights mean NT intervention should end

UN rights mean NT intervention should end

The Government has been called on to reverse the Northern Territory Intervention after formally supporting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Friday.Greens…

The Government has been called on to reverse the Northern Territory Intervention after formally supporting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Friday.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the blatant discriminatory suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) 1975 in the NT intervention should be overturned.

"The Government should introduce legislation immediately to remove the exemption for the measures of the NT Intervention - or simply adopt the provisions drafted by the Greens last year," she said

Last year the Greens tabled a petition of more than 4000 signatures which expressed concern over the suspension of the RDA 1975 and sought legislative amendments to restore the act to apply to the intervention.

Tom Calma, commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, said while the support for the declaration filled him with hope, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples remained marginalised and faced entrenched poverty and ongoing discrimination.

"The declaration could be put to immediate use in Australia by providing guidance and articulating minimum standards to help the Government in addressing some of the discriminatory elements remaining in the Northern Territory Intervention," he said

In a speech at Parliament House, Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that the declaration acknowledged past inequities, current challenges and the importance of the land to Indigenous people.

"Recognising and acknowledging the history and connection of our Indigenous people with the land is inextricably linked to respecting their rights and freedoms. We understand that native title is an important property right that should be recognised and protected," he said.

Calma said the Government now faced the challenge of building understanding of the declaration among government officials, Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities and the community to give meaning and content to its provisions.

- Sarah Sharples

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