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Wednesday, 17 November 1976
Page: 2778

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) -Mr Deputy Speaker,may I have the indulgence of the House just to say that the Opposition recognises that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) ought to have charge of these Bills; but we appeal to him to reconsider the proposition that there should be a general debate on the 3 cognate measures. Two of the 3 Bills are of the utmost significance- especially the Aborginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill, which only today was the subject of some 42 Government amendments. Of course, in addition to that there is the consideration that the Opposition has probably in excess of 20 amendments to the Bill. Our responses are not fully developed at this stage. The complexities of the Bill are such that there is a great deal to be said for having separate debates. I put it to the Minister that, in view of the great interest in this legislation right around Australia, he might allocate more time for debate. In any event, he should separate the debates so that the significance of the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Bill and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill might be fully understood.

Mr VINER(Stirling-Minister for Aboriginal Affairs)- I will respond shortly to my friend, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). It is the desire of the Government to have a joint debate on these 3 cognate measures. I recall that, when the former Administration introduced its land rights Bill and councils and associations Bill, it sought to have a joint debate, which was proceeding at the time of the dissolution of the Parliament. Arrangements have been made between the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) and his opposite number on the Opposition side that the debate on the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill should proceed to the Committee stage and that then the debate should be adjourned until the resumption of the sitting of the House the week after next. That should give the Opposition ample time to consider its amendments. Together with the second reading debate that will proceed today, it will give the Opposition ample time to consider the Government's amendments and whatever the Opposition wishes to put forward during the Committee stage.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock -! point out that if there were a joint debate on these cognate Bills it would not mean in any way that there would not be a debate during the Committee stage of the consideration of the Bills. I anticipate that the amendments are to be moved in the Committee stage. There would be no limitation during the Committee stage of the consideration of the Bills by agreeing to this. However, the Chair is in the hands of the House. It is a decision for the House. If the House agrees to a general debate covering the 3 measures, I will allow that course to be followed.

Mr VINER(Stirling-Minister for Aboriginal Affairs)- Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.

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