The State Liberals’ Stolen Generation (Compensation) Bill passed the Legislative Council last night without the support of the Weatherill Labor Government.
The Bill, introduced by Liberal MLC, Terry Stephens, was supported by all crossbenchers.
The only Weatherill Labor Government speaker on the Bill was Labor MLC, Tung Ngo, who said he was “unable” to support the Bill.
Labor Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Ian Hunter, did not speak on the Bill.
If successful, the Bill will provide ex-gratia financial compensation to eligible members of the stolen generation.
This would make South Australia the first mainland state to formally pay compensation to eligible members of the stolen generation.
However, the proposed legislation does more than just providing financial compensation; it also acknowledges that the policies of past governments caused emotional, physical and cultural harm to members of the stolen generation and their families.
This would place South Australia at the forefront of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
“Labor’s failure to support this Bill is disgraceful and the Weatherill Labor Government should be ashamed of itself,” said Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Terry Stephens.
“The State Liberals have actively sought to work with the Government on this Bill, but the Government has refused to engage with us.”
The State Liberals first approached the Government about this legislation in August. A briefing on this Bill was also given to all Legislative Council Members, but not one Government MLC turned up.
“This legislation is an important and significant component of ongoing reconciliation with Aboriginal people in South Australia,” said Mr Stephens.
“Addressing the wrongs of the past will allow South Australia to move forward.
“This legislation has been widely called for by notable Aboriginal organisations, including the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and Reconciliation SA.
“This legislation is a fundamental step forward in the ongoing reconciliation process.”