Racial Discrimination Act to be re-instated

Consultations will begin in remote Northern Territory communities this week over the federal government's commitment to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). 

Consultations will begin in remote Northern Territory communities this week over the federal government's commitment to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act, the federal government said.

The RDA was suspended when the former Howard government launched its intervention program.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the Rudd government will hold meetings in the 73 affected indigenous communities.

"There will be separate women's and men's meetings, proper interpreters available so that people can give their response to income management, alcohol controls, those sort of measures," she told Network Ten on Sunday.

Ms Macklin said she believed these measures had been beneficial in remote communities.

"The women tell me that now that they have more money to spend on food, their children are getting better fed, that there is less money being spent on alcohol and drugs, less money being spent on gambling," she said.

"So that is the view that is being put to me informally. We will now go and do a proper process of consultation before I put that legislation into the parliament later this year."

Suspension of RDA

The application of the Racial Discrimination Act was suspended in the Northern Territory to allow the roll-out of some elements of the intervention, particularly quarantining of social security income to ensure it was spent on food, not drugs or alcohol.

The government signalled in a discussion paper last month it would continue the controversial compulsory income management scheme but may consider exemptions for people Centrelink believes can manage their finances.

Ms Macklin rejected suggestions that re-instating the RDA meant the income quarantining would become voluntary.

She said that was not necessarily true and there were different options for consideration in the consultations.

"If people see the benefits of compulsory income management, then we will certainly be taking that very seriously," she said.

"My personal view is that compulsory income management can be seen as a special measure under the RDA."

Source AAP

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