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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1037


Senator KILGARIFF —Can the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs say whether the Federal Government supports the lands rights legislation presently before the Western Australian Parliament? If not, is it the intention of the Hawke Government to introduce overriding national land rights legislation to correct the perceived shortcomings of the Western Australian legislation? Given the numerous objections which have been raised to the operation of the existing land rights legislation in the Northern Territory, would it be the Government's intention to overcome these problems in the new legislation or does the Government propose to address these problems by way of amendment to the existing Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act? Finally, what effect will the national land rights legislation as proposed by Mr Holding, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, have on the operation of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act?


Senator RYAN —As I have said on behalf of Mr Holding in this Senate many times-I believe several times in response to questions from Senator Kilgariff-the Federal Government has announced a set of principles and a preferred option which constitutes our position on land rights. It is our Government's preference that State legislation should incorporate those principles and should be in keeping with the preferred model indicated in Mr Holding's statement. It is not possible to make a final comment on how far the legislation now before the Western Australian Parliament coincides with the Federal principles until the legislation has completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament. As Senator Kilgariff would be aware, that has not yet happened, so we do not have the final legislative outcome of the Western Australian Government's legislation.

I repeat to Senator Kilgariff that the principles which our Government believes should be incorporated in land rights legislation throughout Australia, be it State or Federal, have been announced. A preferred model has been set out by Mr Holding to indicate an option which in our view is a practicable and desirable option for incorporating those principles in legislation. The achievement of those principles is being discussed by Mr Holding with the Western Australian Government. Mr Holding will make clear our Government's position on the Western Australian legislation when it has been completed by the Western Australian Parliament.

I think Mr Holding has similarly indicated that the principles which we have announced could involve some changes to the Northern Territory land rights legislation. However, that is a matter that is still under discussion with representatives of Aboriginal organisations, particularly those from the Northern Territory, with mining groups, with the Northern Territory Government and Opposition and with other legitimate bodies. The Commonwealth's final position in respect of Western Australia will be clear when the Western Australian position is finally clear. In respect of the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia, the matter of putting into effect the principles announced by the Federal Government is still under discussion.