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Wednesday, 1 December 1976


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would like to raise with the Minister a matter that has been referred to before. It concerns the exclusion of roads from grants of land to Aboriginal land trusts. The effect of clause 1 1 is along these lines. When the Minister is satisfied in terms of clause 50 that land should be granted to a Land Trust for the benefit of Aboriginals entitled to that land by Aboriginal tradition, land on which there is a road over which the public has a right of way is not included. Clause 11(3) states:

A reference in sub-section ( I ) to land shall be read as not including a reference to any land on which there is a road over which the public has a right of way.

As the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) pointed out, it seems that Aboriginal people are being very greatly disadvantaged. Without labouring the point, it is contrary to the recommendations made under the tourism heading and under several other headings by His Honour Mr Justice Woodward. It seems to me that it is important to mention that the Opposition feels gravely concerned about this and is obsessed with the conviction that the Aboriginal people will be languishing in great disadvantage as a result of the Government's intention to exclude roads from Aboriginal lands. As I understand the position, we are speaking not only about roads over which the public has a right of way but also about roads which might be created in the future.

If this is the case, this could play havoc with Aboriginal traditional lands. If this situation was taken to the absurd stage, one could apply an L. J. Hooker type sub-division and mutilate and ruin the characteristics of the land as traditionally enjoyed by Aboriginal people. I do not really think that that is likely to happen but there are all kinds of intermediate levels of development about which one could speculate. In any event, if we look at the situation in Arnhem Land, at Oenpelli and at Maningrida, one already knows that if roads are disregarded as traditional land over which the Northern Territory Administration is to exercise its prerogative and rightswhich I have mentioned is an inferior concept to the concept of Aboriginal people exercising their right- an inundation of tourists can wreak havoc with Aboriginal life. The Aboriginal people will become spectacles posing for photographs. Any kind of white intrusion into a traditional area just brings about diminution of the traditional way of life. Obviously, this is a very important matter. I wonder what great conviction caused the Minister to disregard the recommendations of Mr Jusdee Woodward and all the other people with great knowledge and experience in these matters. Surely he knows, as one who has contemporaneously travelled over land in Aboriginal occupied areas would know, how devastating this can be. Clearly, the roads should be part of that traditional land administered under the provisions of this legislation. I wonder whether the Minister can throw any light on his departure from this principle.







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