The majority voted in favour of a motion "That clauses 4 to 7 stand as printed", which means that the clauses will remain unchanged. The motion was put in response to an earlier motion to oppose these clauses, which was moved by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
These clauses relate to the application of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and Queensland and Northern Territory laws. Senator Siewert argued that these laws are "discriminatory and they treat people in the Northern Territory as a different set of citizens".(Read Senator Siewert's full explanation of her motion here. )
Background to the bills
The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Bill 2007 was introduced along with four other bills:
- the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Bill 2007
- the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill 2007
- the Appropriation (Northern Territory National Emergency Response) Bill (No. 1) 2007-2008, and
- the Appropriation (Northern Territory National Emergency Response) Bill (No. 2) 2007-2008.
This legislation was introduced in response to the Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, known as the Little Children are Sacred report, which was publicly released on 15 June 2007.(Read more about the background of the bills in the interim bills digest. ) That report came after concerns were raised on ABC's Lateline program in 2006.(Read the transcript for the Lateline programs that addressed the issue of child abuse in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory here (the May 2006 program) and here (the June 2006 program).)