• File image of Traditional owners and Victorian politicians welcoming Australia's first Aboriginal treaty bill. (AAP)Source: AAP
Historic treaty legislation in Victoria depends on the Greens agreeing to the state government's amendments, as $700,000 is put towards funding Traditional Owner negotiation talks.
6 Jun 2018 - 11:47 AM  UPDATED 6 Jun 2018 - 12:14 PM

The coalition opposition on Wednesday reaffirmed its desire for a national treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rather than supporting the Andrews government model.

In order for the treaty process to start, a bill currently being debated in parliament must get Greens support.     

"We have a historic opportunity to take a very big step towards self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians, justice and fairness for Aboriginal Victorians and I would hope nobody in the Victorian parliament would stand in the way of that," Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday.

"I'm very much focused on this bill passing."

A $700,000 grant scheme has been announced to support Traditional Owner groups, Aboriginal organisations and businesses in treaty negotiations.

"It's important the treaty process continues to be led by the Aboriginal community," Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins said in a statement.

Payments of up to $10,000 will fund small consultations or "treaty circles", while grants of up to $100,000 can be used for more intense and ongoing consultation, as well as research and planning.

It comes after the government agreed to amendments to its bill following objections from some Indigenous Victorians and the Greens.

The government on Tuesday issued amendments in a bid to get Greens support, including putting a definition of 'treaty' in the bill, defining Traditional Owners and requiring that they form part of the Aboriginal Representative Body.

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The amendments also guarantee the independence of the Treaty Authority, and the government has indicated support for an Elders Council.

But they do not specify who will represent Aboriginal Victorians or restrict or determine what will be included in any treaty.

The amendments also guarantee the independence of the Treaty Authority, and the government has indicated support for an Elders Council, but do not specify who will represent Aboriginal Victorians or restrict or determine what will be included in any treaty.

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Victoria's first Indigenous female MP, the Greens' Lidia Thorpe, has been pushing for a clan-based approach.

"The lack of recognition in this bill of Aboriginal culture, including the different clans and first nations and indeed the role of elders, is concerning from a human rights perspective," she told the lower house on Tuesday night.

Ms Thorpe also called for funding to support measures including further cultural mapping of Aboriginal people's genealogy.

"Treaty is not about moral appeasement or legitimacy for Victorian government, it's about securing justice and political and economic rights for the first people of this land," she said.

Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said a treaty would start to heal wounds from "generational atrocities" inflicted on Indigenous people.

"The government acknowledges that telling the Indigenous community what they need is not self-determination and too often it is an easy pattern to fall into and it's nothing more than condescending paternalism," she said.

The grants will be split into two groups.

Payments of up to $10,000 will fund small consultations or "treaty circles", while grants up to $100,000 can be used for more intense and ongoing consultation, as well as research and planning.

The opposition is against a state treaty process.   

"A national approach would be a better way," Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said on Wednesday.

"A state-by-state approach is going to be hugely complex."

Nationals MP Tim Bull said a treaty should be discussed at a national level to avoid "having different discussions in different states".

AAP 

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