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Monday, 27 June 1994
Page: 1996


Senator O'CHEE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. The minister may be aware that there have now been a significant number of claims lodged with the Native Title Tribunal, and he would certainly be aware that the Commonwealth has appropriated an additional $6.5 million in the first six months of this year to pay the legal expenses of Aboriginal native title claimants. These cases have enormous implications for the rateable base of local governments in the areas claimed, and also for the provision of services in those shires. For example, the Cook shire, which is affected by the Wyk claim, has a rates base of only $900,000 per annum which is already stretched thin in maintaining 3,000 kilometres of road. Therefore I ask: will councils affected by native title claims be assured that the Commonwealth will pay their legal expenses in the same way as it is paying the legal expenses of Aboriginal claimants?


Senator BOLKUS —I will take this question on notice and get a full answer for Senator O'Chee.