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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3066

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) -I draw the attention of the Committee to subclause 2 of this clause. Sub-clause 9 makes it obligatory to reserve all minerals to the Crown in Aboriginal lands. I think this is reasonable in regard to the Aboriginal lands that will be added from time to time. With regard to the reserves, I hope that it would not be made obligatory to make these reservations in favour of the Crown. I do not say that they should never be made on reserves because it may be that, in cases where mineral rights have already been given, for example at Magellan and at Nabarlek, the reservations to the Crown should, of course, remain. I am speaking only of the lands set out in the schedule and not of other lands. It seems to me that it would be reasonable to give to the Aboriginals the normal mineral rights, with the exceptions of those areas in which some kind of mineral tenure is conceded already.

I know it is said that this should not be done. It is said that this is not done for other people and should not be done for Aboriginals. This is not quite true. Old titles in most of the Australian States did carry mineral rights. Old titles in the Northern Territory, when it was under South Australian administration and some freehold was given, carried mineral rights. I am not suggesting for one moment that there should be a special arrangement in favour of Aboriginals. Rather I am suggesting that, in respect of the reserves and subject to the exceptions I have made, on these reserves the Aboriginals are holding the old title and as such should be treated on the same basis as those who held old titled. I move:

In sub-clause (2), after 'section' insert ', made following a recommendation under section 11,'.

Textually, it is a small and neat amendment. It does not affect the main structure of the Bill, but I think it does something quite substantial. I suggest that, in order to put the Aboriginals on the same basis as those who have held old titles in these areas, on the reserves where no mineral right has been given already, it should not be obligatory to make the grant of land subject to a reservation of minerals to the Crown. I have not gone further than that. I have suggested only that this should be permissive rather man mandatory. I commend the amendment to the Minister and to the Committee.

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