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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3062

Mr VINER (Stirling) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -The Government's attitude towards the amendments is that we do not accept them. I refer briefly to a number of pertinent points. The question of roads was raised by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis). I direct his attention to my reply in the second reading debate on the original Bill, when I explained fully the protection given by the legislation to the position of roads through Aboriginal land. I suggest that if the honourable gentleman reads that he will be satisfied as to the requirements of the Bill. Reference was made by the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) and the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) about the definition of mining interest, particularly the exclusion of renewals of mining interests. I simply point out that the amendments originally proposed by the Government, which are now incorporated in this Bill, are more restrictive of the rights of mining companies holding mining interests which contain a right of renewal than the original provision in this respect in the Bill which I introduced on 4 June. The point is that the only rights of renewal which are protected are statutory rights in existence prior to the land becoming Aboriginal land.

With respect to the amendment moved by the Opposition to include a reference to land in towns, the Opposition has drawn on Mr Justice Woodward's report. Without elaboration I refer the Committee to paragraphs 274 and 328, item 9, of his report, and remind the Committee that the legislation deals exclusively with traditional land rights. In that respect, to maintain consistency, the Government decided that any request by Aboriginal groups to land in towns should be dealt with outside the Bill and through the ordinary administration of land use in the Northern Territory. His Honour Mr Justice Woodward, when speaking of town claims, clearly indicated that the tenure of any land in towns by Aborigines should be the same kind of tenure as that for all other persons and that any requests for such land should go through the normal town planning procedures of the Northern Territory. That will be done. As I indicated in my initial second reading speech and subsequent statements, and with particular reference here to Alice Springs, the Government is committed to satisfying the requirements of Aborigines for land in towns such as camping areas and other areas of land for residential use. That commitment will be maintained. In fact it is being worked out right at the moment in Alice Springs.

Amendments negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 9- by leave-taken together.

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