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Wednesday, 1 December 1976

All that piece of land in the Northern Territory of Australia containing an area of 37 S29 square kilometres more or less: Commencing at the intersection of the meridian of east longitude 130 degrees 28 minutes 53.96 seconds with the parallel of south latitude 2 1 degrees; thence west for a distance of 16 093 metres; thence north to the parallel of south latitude 19 degrees 51 minutes 16.69 seconds; thence east to a point north of the western corner of Pastoral Lease 594 (Willowra); thence south to the said western corner, thence southeasterly, southerly, westerly and again southerly by southwestern, western, northern and again western boundaries of the said Pastoral Lease to the southwestern corner of the said Pastoral Lease; thence southerly by the western boundary of Pastoral Lease 634 (Mount Barkly) to the southwestern corner of the said Pastoral Lease; thence westerly, northerly and again westerly and southerly by part of northern, an eastern, again a northern and a western boundary of Pastoral Lease 590 (Mount Denison) to the most western southwestern corner of the said Pastoral Lease; thence westerly by part of the northern boundary of the Yuendumu Aboriginal Reserve as notified in Northern Territory Government Gazette No. 24 of 28 May 1952 to the northwestern corner of the said Reserve; thence northerly, westerly, again northerly and again westerly by an eastern, a northern, across a stock route, again a northern, again an eastern and again a northern boundary of Pastoral Lease 802 (Mount Doreen) to the most northern northwestern corner of the said Pastoral Lease; then northerly and westerly by part of the eastern boundary and the northern boundary of Pastoral Lease 764 (Chilla Well) to its intersection with the meridian of east longitude 130 degrees 28 minutes 53.96 seconds; thence north to the point of commencement.'.

This amendment concerns Tanami and its description. The deletion of the area known as the Tanami region, the traditional land of the Walpiri people, based principally at Yuendumu and Hooker Creek is in complete contrast to the recommendations of Mr Justice Woodward. The Commissioner in his second report, stated:

As for the . . . Tanami Desert, I am satisfied that there are sufficiently close ties between Aborigines still living nearby and those lands to justify their immediate transfer to Aboriginal ownership . . .

This clear statement was accepted by the previous Government The land owners of the Tanami Desert were included in the schedule to the 1 975 Bill. This provision was in the Bill which was introduced in June of this year, but the Minister has since attributed that fact to a printer's error. I simply say that for reasons known only to the Minister it has been deleted from this Bill. We were told by the Minister in his second reading speech that the area was included as a mistake. No further explanation, other than that, was added. I think an explanation is due tonight. The insult to the Walpiri people is clear, and their concern is equally clear. In a letter to the Minister on the third of this month they rejected the Government's move and requested an alteration to the Schedule so that their land would be put back under the operation of this Bill. However, on 17 November the Minister rejected their request.

These people have been seeking to have this land transferred to their ownership for almost 41 years. The first application was made in 1935 only 7 years after they suffered the last known Aboriginal massacre in Australian history when 31 members of their tribe were murdered in revenge killings. There is considerable documentation here which I would like to have dealt with. I imagine that this matter might be handled effectively in another place. Probably some of this material will be incorporated in the Hansard of that place. At this stage I prefer to convey to the Minister the fact that the Opposition is very seriously concerned about this matter. I want him to have sufficient time to deal with it. Supporters of the Government may like to say something about the matter; so I conclude my remarks and hope that there will be a satisfactory response.

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