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Wednesday, 1 December 1976


Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I speak to the fourth amendment of the battery of amendments moved by the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). It refers to subclause (4) of clause 3. This is an interesting clause. The Government proposes in this Bill, which is an amending Bill, to amend the clause in the original Bill. I believe that the Government's amendment is correct and that the Opposition's proposed amendment is incorrect. It is incorrect for some very viable and very worthy reasons. The sub-clause in the original Bill read as follows:

A reference in this Act to the granting of a rnining interest in respect of Aboriginal land shall be read as not including a reference to the renewal of a mining interest that was in existence when the land became Aboriginal land.

It appears to me that in that clause the Government was trying to guarantee that a mining interest was not capable of being intercepted when there had to be a renewal of the mining interest. That is a very legitimate requirement, but the sense of the clause left a great doubt. It could be interpreted that the mining interest was capable of being intercepted at any time and there was no right of renewal. So the Government quite correctly introduced some new words. The proposed sub-clause now reads:

A reference in this Act to the granting of a mining interest in respect of Aboriginal land shall be read as not including a reference to the renewal, in accordance with an option or other right conferred before the land became Aboriginal land, of a mining interest that was in existence when the land became Aboriginal land.

That gave some guarantee that when an interest was to be renewed- many of them are for 21 years; they have to be renewed progressively- it could not just be cut off or intercepted at the time of renewal. The effect of the Opposition's amendment is to put any renewal in a position of risk which ultimately could guarantee that the rnining interest or development would not proceed. I know that it is fashionable in this place to bash mining interests, to say that mining is not a satisfactory activity and to say that mining is always a disruptive activity. I am not one who holds to that proposition. It is quite clear that in other clauses of this BUI there are many guarantees as to the negotiating rights of Aborigines through the land councils and the deed-holding body, the Land Trust, in respect of the mining interests. As it is proposed by the honourable member for Hughes on behalf of the Opposition, the whole show is put at risk -


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have not put the case yet.


Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The honourable member would not put his own interests at risk. I am just looking at the words of the Opposition's amendment. The meaning of those words is quite clear. They would react ultimately to the very great detriment of the Aborigines. They would not even allow the rights of Aborigines with respect to rnining interests to be protected because there would be none being renewed from which Aborigines would need to be protected or from which they could obtain payment in terms of negotiated settlements and so on. So I hope that the enormity of the proposition that is being put by the Opposition is realised in this chamber. It is for that reason that I welcome the Government's amendment to the original Bill. It clarifies sub-clause (4) of clause 3. That sub-clause has caused a lot of concern and a lot of uncertainty. No matter how it is read, it certainly does not mean what was intended by the original subclause. The Opposition's amendment runs completely contrary to what I thought was the first intended meaning and, as a matter of common sense, I believe that it ought to be rejected. I believe that the Government's proposed amendment is one of sound common sense, knowing what is involved in terms of those interests which are essentially long term interests and not short term interests.







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