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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3070

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) -The purpose of the amendment, as the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) pointed out, is to insert clause 56 of the 1975 Bill into this legislation. This new clause provides for the possibility of vesting land in Aboriginal councils for particular purposes, generally relating to needs, and is based on the recommendations of the Woodward report. In his first report the Commissioner suggested that local Aboriginal land be held on a community basis, a suggestion which was based on what the Commissioner felt to be a fairly clear consensus of Aboriginal opinion and because the Commission represented the basic political and social drift of Aborigines in modern society. However in paragraph 84 of the Commission's second report His Honour Mr Justice Woodward stated that the system which he considered to be most in harmony with traditional Aboriginal social organisations was that of a trust made up of clan elders supported by an administrative organisation.

The Commissioner then noted that Aboriginal communities had appreciated the lack of practicability in vesting small areas of land in Aboriginal claims but also commented that as 'the most likely development over the next 50 years or so will be a gradual weakening of links with specific areas and sites and the strengthening of community identity with larger tracts of land' community ownership would be more appropriate at that time. To provide for this he recommended in paragraph 88 that legislation provide for both land ownership possibilities. The 1975 legislation catered for this, and this amendment makes a similar provision. This amendment will give effect to His Honour's point made in paragraph 88 that the form of ownership should not be forced along by the imposition of arrangements where they are not wanted and would not willingly be accepted or observed. For these reasons and to give flexibility to Aboriginal communities on this matter I commend the new clause to the Committee.

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