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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1551

Senator KILGARIFF —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to her statement during the matter of public importance on land rights legislation on Monday, 8 October, when, referring to Western Australian legislation, she said:

We have undertaken to work with the Burke Government so that those principles can be incorporated.

As the Burke Government does not agree with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Holding, that Aboriginal people should have the power of veto over mining on Aboriginal land, is this a principle that the Federal Government will now not pursue? As there appears to be general agreement between the Western Australian Government and Northern Territory Government in regard to the framework of land rights legislation, will the Federal Government then amend the Northern Territory (Aboriginal Land Rights) Act in regard to public reserves and stock route reserves, et cetera, now claimable in the Northern Territory?

Senator RYAN —Senator Kilgariff's question refers to the intention of the Western Australian Burke Government and the Hawke Government to co-operate in the development of Western Australian State legislation for Aboriginal land rights. I quote from the joint statement by the Prime Minister and the Western Australian Premier issued on 5 October after they met to discuss how this could be brought about:

The Federal and State Governments will work together to ensure that common principles are adopted in the formulation of land rights legislation.

It is far too early to pre-empt the outcome of that legislation drafting process . It is the belief of our Government that it will be possible to incorporate principles such as a measure of Aboriginal control over their own land into the State legislation. The assertion by Senator Kilgariff that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Holding, would be insisting on veto, or some such assertion that he made, is not right. Mr Holding has not been referring to veto. He has been referring to the desire of Aboriginal people to control their own land, to have some say in what should happen should there be mining on that land . Of course, an overwhelming preoccupation of the Aboriginal people is to be able to protect sacred sites from damage caused by mining. We believe and we hope that it will be possible for those principles to be incorporated in the State legislation. For that reason we are working with the State Government in drafting that legislation. When the legislation is drafted it will be possible for Senator Kilgariff or any other honourable senator to ask further questions about it. I do not believe that there is any current intention to amend the Northern Territory legislation, although I understand that its operation is under some sort of review.