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Wednesday, 8 December 1976

MrVINER (Stirling-Minister for Aboriginal Affairs)-by leave-I move:

(1)   That a Joint Select Committee be appointed to examine and report on-

(a)   the operation of provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 relating to the identification of traditional owners of Aboriginal land and the means of establishing the views of such owners to the satisfaction of the relevant Land Council;

(b)   the adequacy of provisions of the laws of the Northern Territory relating to entry to Aboriginal land, the protection of sites of significance, wildlife conservation and entry to seas adjoining Aboriginal land, and

(c)   any other matters referred by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

(2)   That the committee consist of the five members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs nominated by the Prime Minister, the three members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, and three Senators nominated by the Leader or the Government in the Senate and three Senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

(3   ) That every nomination of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(4)   That the committee elect as Chairman of the committee one of the members nominated by the Prime Minister or by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

(5)   That the committee elect a Deputy Chairman who shall perform the duties of the Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee, and at any time when the Chairman and Deputy Chairman are not present at a meeting of the committee, the members present shall elect another member to perform the duties of the Chairman at that meeting.

(6)   That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.

(7)   That the committee or any sub-committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament.

(8)   That seven members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, and a majority of the members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that sub-committee.

(9)   That in matters of procedure the Chairman or Deputy Chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the Chairman or DeputyChairman have a deliberative vote only.

(10)   That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources.

(11)   That the committee or a sub-committee have power to authorise publication of any evidence given before it and any document presented to it.

(   12) That the committee report by 31 May 1977 and that any member of the committee nave power to add a protest or dissent to any report.

(13)   That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.

(14)   That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

I indicated in my statement to the House on 17 November that the Government proposed to establish a Joint Parliamentary Committee to report not later than 31 May 1977 on the operation of provisions of the land rights Bill dealing with the identification of traditional owners and their relationship to the land councils and on the adequacy of laws of the Northern Territory relating to entry to Aboriginal land, the protection of sacred sites, wild life conservation and entry to seas adjoining Aboriginal land.

The successful operation of the land rights legislation depends to a very great extent on the way in which the land councils are able to reflect the wishes and interests of Aboriginals with traditional interest in land. In particular, where there are proposals for the leasing of land, for exploration of minerals or development of mining on their lands, or the construction of roads, and so on, it will be necessary for the land councils to act in accordance with the wishes of the traditional owners of the areas concerned. To do this properly, the councils must establish registers indicating which people are associated with particular areas of land. The councils will need to employ competent staff to carry out this work and to help consult with traditional owners. These are matters which the Joint Parliamentary Committee will be asked to examine.

In addition, and of equal importance, the Committee will be asked to consider and report on the adequacy of the complementary legislation of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in the several areas referred to in the land rights legislation. There is a recently introduced ordinance on wild life protection and the Committee may consider whether any amendment to it is necessary to take account of the provisions in the Commonwealth legislation. There is an existing ordinance for the protection of sites and objects of Aboriginal and historical significance and we will be preparing proposals for amending legislation in this field. The Assembly has proposals for new laws in relation to entry to Aboriginal land and access to seas adjoining Aboriginal land. These are all matters of very real day-to-day importance to Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. I cannot overstate the importance of the Committee's work in these 2 areas. I assure the House that it will have the full co-operation of my Department in its work.







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