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Wednesday, 9 March 1977
Page: 17

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will remember stating on 1 1 November 1976 that he had an express undertaking from the Majority Leader of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly that any draft ordinances complementary to this Parliament \s Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act would be prepared in consultation with htm and must be acceptable to him. He will also remember stating on 14 November that if the Territory legislation was considered unsatisfactory the Government could refer it back to the

Legislative Assembly for amendment or could recommend that consent to it be withheld. I ask the Minister: Has the Majority Leader of the Assembly in fact ignored his undertaking and introduced the Aboriginal Lands and Sacred Sites Ordinance 1977 without consulting him? Will the Minister reiterate his statement of 14 November that he would ensure that the Territory legislation accords with Aboriginal wishes and that the Government will not recommend consent to that ordinance if it contravenes the recommendations of Mr Justice A. E. Woodward?

Mr VINER (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) - The honourable gentleman correctly restates the statements which I made to this House back in November last year. The commitment then given by the Majority Leader of the Legislative Assembly, through the Minister for the Northern Territory, was that the complementary legislation would be prepared with my involvement and with my agreement. That commitment still stands. There was consultation between Dr Letts and me in December just after this Parliament rose, and then officers held discussions on 28 January. It is a fact that I had not seen the legislation before it was introduced into the Legislative Assembly. I have now seen it. In fact, I saw it today. I am studying it. I spoke to Dr Letts about the matter today. The stand that I took last year is the stand I take now. I give the commitments that I have given previously to the Aboriginal people. Their wishes will be taken into account and the legislation will be studied to see that it accords with Commonwealth policies.

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