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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5183

Senator RIDGEWAY (6:24 PM) —I have a number of questions that I want to ask the minister with regard to the Torres Strait Fisheries Amendment Bill 2002. The minister might perhaps provide a response in relation to why the government regards native title rights and the interests of the Kaurareg people as peripheral to the application of the Torres Strait Fisheries Act, even though the Federal Court has determined that they hold significant native title rights in the Torres Strait. In your letter of response, you identified the seven islands as being on the periphery of or outside the Torres Strait zone. This is correct in terms of those main group islands, but, as you would be aware, the native title determination by the Federal Court also recognised interests that were held in sea and that extended well into the zone itself. The minister might respond in relation to why there appears to be an attitude that the native title rights and interests of the Kaurareg people, which have been recognised by the Federal Court, are being dealt with in a secondary manner in terms of their assertion that they have not been consulted in a way that they consider appropriate or one that would satisfy their concerns. This will be reflected at a roundtable meeting to be convened in November, presumably before the next meeting of the joint authority.