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Government reverses commitment on mining review

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MEDIA RELEASEWARWICK SMITH M.H.R Federal Member for BassCOMMONWEALTH parliam entary LIBRARY MICAHS H A D O W M I N I S T E R F O R A B O R I G I N A L A F F A I R S1 6 th J u l y ' B9GOVERNMENT REVERSES COMMITMENT ON MINING REVIEWThe release of letters today from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Hand, and from the Northern Territory Chamber of Mines, (copies attached) are a complete reversal of an undertaking given by Minister Gareth Evans in 1987, Warwick Smith, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, said today."At that time Senator Evans said the mining provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights Northern Territory Act 1976 would be reviewed. This review was to take place in June 1989."Mr Smith said the mining industry had now approached the Prime Minister to seek his immediate Intervention to honour the previous commitment."What is most disturbing about this matter is that Minister Hand shows no compunction whatsoever in not honouring the commitment of his colleague. He is a maverick Minister, running to his own agenda which does not appear to be in anyway analogous to that of his Government.”"If the Prime Minister does not intervene immediately to order the promised review it is an indictment on the Government. It indicates that Minister Hand is uncontrolled in his administration of this very sensitive area of his portfolio."Mr Smith criticised Minister Hand for his lack of consultation. "The agenda in Aboriginal Affairs appears to be run by very few people, namely the large and powerful Land Councils. It is time the Minister explained his actions.""This is but another example of the the Minister's intransigence which is increasingly leading many, including myself, to believe that his agenda is partisan. He is not capable of reaching and negotiating with those broader interests affected by his decision-making.""1 ask the Minister to respond positively to the request of the mining industry and to proceed immediately with a review. If he fails to do so then the Prime Minister should immediately act."Contact t Canberra office (062) 77 4511 Launceston office (003) 31 4322

Λ.7; CHAMBER OF MINES INC. 7th Floor Hooker Building Mitchell St * GPOBox610 Darwin NT 8794 Pfiont ( 669) 81 4488 FAX.* (888) 411888 Telex AA 88888 3Cth June, 1989 ·

The Hon. 0. Hand, MP .

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs '

Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600 Γ,?? Γ Q Q p y

Dear Mr. Hand,


'The Northern Territory Chamber of Mines (Ino) and its constituent members view with considerable consternation the advice In your letter of 20 Jura, 1989, that you consider it "Inappropriate” to review the mining provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976 (hereinafter called, the Act), at this

time. A, . . , . . · · . ·

This advice follows your acknowledgment that a previous Federal Minister for Resources, Senator The Hon. Gareth Evans, had given the NT mining industry an unqualified undertaking that the June 5, 1987, amendments to the mining provisions of the Act would be reviewed after they had been in operation for two years ie. at June 5, 1989, to determine whether they were working effectively and efficiently. ,

your advice, therefore, is a very plain example of an undertaking being dishonoured.

It may be the cose that honour is held in poor regard in the political arena but such conduct is completely unacceptable to the NT mineral exploration and mining '' industries. "·7 . i

* '

The Chamber notes that the reason offered by you in your missive of 20 June, 1989, to delay this undertaking ie that, and I quote "the Land Councils have been required to deal with a very large number of exploration licence application proposals". . .

This reason is at the very oore of our pressing request that the Federal Government honour its 1987 commitment to undertake an immediate and thorough review of the operation of the current mining provisions of the Act.

To expand upon this, the Charter offers the following figuresi- ,

* Aboriginal land, plus land under claim to become so, currently comprises nearly one half (47.6 percent) of the land mass of the Northern Territory.

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2 0 J V N 1989

Dear Mr Gamble

You wrote to me on 11 April 1989 concerning the exploration and mining provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (the Act).

I am aware that in March 1986 Senator the Hon Gareth Bvane, the then Minister for Resource· and Energy, undertook to . . . . review the operation of the arrangements for exploration and mining on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory two years after the amendments to the Act were put into effect.

'Since the amendments were introduced in June 1987# the Land Councils have been required to deal with a very large number of exploration licence application proposals. I believe it would not be appropriate to review the exploration and mining provisions of the Act until the congestion so caused has been

reduced and the relevant parties have had the opportunity to operate under normal conditions.

I have asked the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to make regular aseeeemente of the operation of the new exploration and mining provision· and this will aeeist me in determining the appropriate time to conduct a review.

Yours sincerely


■ ' • . t

Gerry Hand V‘i V :

Mr Michael J Gamble Executive officer NT Chamber of Mines Inc GPO Box 510


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