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Tuesday, 7 June 1994
Page: 1381

Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday, Senator Ellison asked me about the application of state or federal environmental legislation in the event of a successful native title claim over a national park. It might be helpful if I added to the answer that I gave yesterday, having now read the article and seen its preoccupation with endangered species. I make the following further point: under the Native Title Act, native title is subject, as I said, to the general laws of Australia, including state and territory laws which are consistent with the act. The act also provides in section 211, however, that native title rights to hunt fish and carry on a cultural or spiritual activity may be exercised without the need for a licence or permit, even where others can carry out that activity only with a licence or permit.

  I do stress, as the section makes clear, that those rights may be exercised only to satisfy the personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs of native title holders. This provision may be relevant to a limited number of environmental laws which require licences for the carrying out of particular activities. Of course, if an activity is totally prohibited and there is no question of people being allowed to do it with a licence, native title holders cannot rely on section 211. They are totally prohibited as well from killing the particular endangered species animal, or whatever, that might be the subject of such a law.