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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 811 asked in the Legislative Council on 13 September 2018 by Hon Michael Mischin

Minister responding: Hon B.S. Wyatt
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 13 September 2018

OFFICE OF NATIVE TITLE — STAFF

811. Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN to the minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs:

In asking my unnoticed question, of which I have given some notice, I refer to my question without notice 489, asked on 26 June, about the state Office of Native Title, the answer to which was provided on 28 June, and to the minister's advice of a merger of the Aboriginal Policy Unit and Land Approvals and Native Title Unit to form a new Aboriginal Policy and Coordination Unit.

(1) When was this commenced, and when is it due to be completed?

(2) What will be the function of this new unit, and how is it proposed to ensure that the responsibility of crafting policy for the benefit of Aboriginal people will not subsume the distinct and separate responsibility of making decisions about native title on behalf of the state in the interests of all Western Australians?

(3) Has the minister sought and received advice about the merger and its implications; and, if not, why not?

(4) If the minister has sought and received advice about the merger and its implications, will he table that advice; and, if he declines, will he explain his reasons?

(5) Since becoming minister, and having regard to the loss of officers experienced in the field of native title, from whom has the minister been taking advice; and, if the minister has been receiving advice from outside consultants and Aboriginal corporations or advocacy bodies, who are they, and in respect of what issues?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1) The merger process commenced in February 2018 and the new Aboriginal Policy and Coordination Unit officially commenced operations on 1 July 2018.

(2) The newly created Aboriginal Policy and Coordination Unit aims to improve the WA government's cost efficiency and effectiveness in policy development and whole-of-government implementation of those policies for the benefit of Aboriginal people and the wider Western Australian community.

(3)–(4) The reform of the department's Aboriginal affairs machinery has been informed by the recommendations of the priority services review. The minister was verbally briefed throughout the process of the merger.

(5) The minister receives advice on native title and related matters from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the State Solicitor's Office and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage. He also discusses native title issues with a range of stakeholders, including Aboriginal corporations and research and industry bodies.