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Friday, 24 November 1978

Mr VINER - The recent negotiations of the Northern Land Council on the terms and conditions for mining of uranium at Ranger and Nabarlek, and the leasing of land for the Kakadu National Park, are only the first of many occasions when Aboriginals, with their own expert advisers, will deal with governments and corporations on a basis of equality to negotiate the conditions on which their lands can be used by others. The new political strength of the Aboriginal voice has also been reflected in the attention given to Aboriginal affairs in this Parliament in recent years. It is reflected in the new significance of the Aboriginal vote in elections. Gone is the indifference of political aspirants towards Aboriginals as voters. The Government welcomes these developments and, to ensure that this political involvement is available to aU Aboriginals no matter what life- style they choose to live, has approved a comprehensive program of electoral education for Aboriginal people living in non-urban areas. This program will commence in March next year and is planned to run on a national basis for at least three years.

Today, Australians generally recognise the value of the Aboriginal cultural heritage and the contribution Aboriginals are making to our multi-cultural society. They themselves are very conscious now of their cultural identity and of the extent to which it is everywhere threatened and has in many parts suffered loss through the destructive effects of contact. The Government has been helping Aboriginals throughout Australia to maintain, develop and restore and rebuild their cultural identity through the programs of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council and through bi-cultural and bilingual education programs. In this context I mention that, in response to requests from several communities, we have been working on proposals for the development of local communitybased broadcasting services for Aboriginals in their own languages. The Postal and Telecommunications Department is currently developing proposals for public broadcasting stations to be operated by certain Aboriginal communities. These will soon be finalised and applications will be invited, these applications to be considered by the Australia Broadcasting Tribunal. In addition, several Aboriginal groups are already making use of the new public radio stations.

In this modern age, radio and television services are very powerful and influential tools of knowledge and understanding. I have taken steps to ensure that Aboriginals are not deprived of this by directing the Government's working party on Aboriginal broadcasting to give first consideration to remote communities. Accordingly, the major Aboriginal languages which could be serviced have already been identified. I shall be reporting in due course on the outcome of these new initiatives and on other steps to extend broadcasting services, both radio and television, to remote communities in the north.

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