Regional Victorians have been blindsided by the news of a settlement agreement that would give indigenous groups a range of sweeping powers.
The indigenous groups could have the power to co-manage waterways and biosecurity, as well as procurement contracts and jobs, and even rename all roads, bridges, and public spaces.
“Labor has done a sneaky deal to make a treaty settlement in the lead up to the 2023 state election, before the treaty negotiation process itself has even been finalised” said Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy.
The agreement covers an area half the size of Tasmania.
It spreads over 10 council areas in Victoria’s North West – Mildura, West Wimmera, Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Yarriambiack, Horsham, and Ararat.
The Andrews Labor Government has snubbed the affected councils by not including them in the negotiations, which is just another example of the Government’s dishonesty.
This sly secrecy from the Andrews Government has caused angst and division within the impacted communities.
Ms Kealy said that this continued secrecy by the Andrews Labor Government has unfairly impacted the community.
“The proposed changes are rumoured as far as changing local street and location names, but we simply don’t know as Labor has kept this a secret from the community.” Ms Kealy said.
“There are deep concerns that this secret deal will have an impact on land and water entitlements to local people.”
Ms Kealy says the land council must be consulted on everything and the Andrews Labor Government needs to pay for that consultation.
“Everybody involved in this process must be consulted and this must be done in an open and transparent way.”