The Turnbull government has suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Senate after Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers scuttled its attempts to ram through changes to Indigenous land rights.
Source:
AAP
11 May 2017 - 12:41 PM  UPDATED 11 May 2017 - 1:42 PM

Attorney-General George Brandis moved to suspend the Senate's schedule on Thursday to bring debate on for proposed changes to native title laws, attempting to force the upper house to return on Friday to have them passed.

But the government lost the vote, meaning the legislation is not likely to pass until the Senate returns in mid-June.

"Here you are wanting to make a piece of legislation to amend a profound act, an important act, making sure we all have our hands tied behind our backs and just say yes."

Indigenous Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy accused the government of disrespecting Traditional Owners by rushing through changes without consultation.

"How many Traditional Owners have you on that side gone out and spoken to?" she asked parliament.

"Here you are wanting to make a piece of legislation to amend a profound act, an important act, making sure we all have our hands tied behind our backs and just say yes.

"Let me tell you: it's not going to happen."

The legislation proposes to solve native title issues surrounding the controversial Adani coalmine project in Queensland, which was hit by a Federal Court ruling that invalidated deals with Traditional Owners across Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously insisted the issues would be fixed in May.

But Labor and the Greens told parliament on Thursday morning they had only received government amendments to the bill as late as Wednesday.

Significant changes were being made and the legislation should not be rushed through, they said.

"I really object to it, on both sides. Native title is too important."

Greens senator Rachel Siewert accused the government of ignoring issues with the proposed changes.

"They want to rush this through so Adani can go ahead with their dirty coalmine," she said.

Senate Opposition Leader Penny Wong hit out at the government and the Greens for playing politics with native title.

"I really object to the way in which native title is being used as a proxy for the Adani debate," she said.

"I really object to it, on both sides. Native title is too important."

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