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Democrats call on Senate to back Croker Island decision.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

John Woodley

Australian Democrats

Native Title Spokesman

 

Democrats call on Senate to back Croker Island decision

 

98/489

7 July 1998

 

The Democrats have called on the Senate to reconsider their amendments to the Native Title Amendment (Wi k) Bill which bestow the right to negotiate on native title rights over offshore waters.

 

Democrats’ Native Title Spokesman, Senator John Woodley, said back in March, the Senate passed two Democrats/Greens amendments to the Wik Bill, extending the right to negotiate to cover waters where native title is recognised.

 

The amendments were passed with the support of Senator Brian Harradine.

 

Senator Woodley said the Democrats and Greens would move the ‘sea rights’ amendments again today and call on Senator Harradine to support the right to negotiate over waters as he did during the second passage of the Wik legislation.

 

“There is absolutely no reason why sea rights should not attract the same rights to negotiate as land rights,” Senator Woodley said.

 

“Without a right-to-negotiate, native title rights over the sea are virtually meaningless, as the Special Minister for State, Nick Minchin, has gone to pains to point out.

 

“Holders of native title sea rights would be powerless to affect the granting of fishing licenses, building of bridges and marinas and tourist activities.

 

“They will be forced to go to the courts to have their rights respected.

 

“If the courts find that infringement of sea rights attracts compensation the taxpayer will be footing the compensation bill.

 

“Refusing to attach the right to negotiate to sea rights is like writing a blank cheque for compensation."

 

“The government and Senator Harradine argue that their native title pact has improved native title prospects for indigenous people while at the same time they will today move to neuter the Federal Court’s decision on sea rights.”

 

Contact: Senator Woodley on 02 6277 3728 or 0419 025 150 or

Vivienne Wynter on 02 6277 3728 or 0419 029 728

 

 

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