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Kilgariff Bill to amend Aboriginal land rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976

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News Release Federal S ecretariat: P.O. Box E 13, Q ueen Victoria Terrace. A C.T 2600 Tel . (0 6 2 )7 3 2564




I am pleased that Senator Kilgariff has taken the initiative to introduce an exposure draft of reforms to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. The Legislation was introduced nearly ten years ago but has never been reviewed despite considerable difficulties in aspects of its implementation.

It was always envisaged that this novel legislation would need to be reviewed and indeed that was a specific recommendation of Mr Justice Woodward in proposing the legislation:

"A deliberate and planned examination of the workings of the system, at regular but infrequent intervals, should ensure that anomalies are brought to light and that the system does not become rigid and unresponsive to changing needs", Aboriginal Land Rights Commission Second Report, 1974, A.E. Wood wa rd .

I believe that it is in the interests of the Aboriginal Australians as well as the broader Australian community that the legislation be reviewed in response to the considerable controversy it has caused in recent years.

The Opposition, in fact, commited itself to amending the Aboriginal Land Rights Legislation in its policy prior to the last election. Attached is the relevant extract from that policy which indicates the areas which were seen as requiring attention.

It is important to get abetter balance between the national interests and Aboriginal interests which have been widely perceived in recent years as being in conflict.

It is my desire to see this conflict resolved.

Senator Kilgariff has taken a lot of trouble to ensure that legitimate Aboriginal interests are guarded whilst ensuring that other community interests are also met.

The Bill will be tabled in the Senate on Monday, December 2, for public consideration, I will be following closely the response from all interested parties and I invite the Aboriginal communities to let me know their v i e w s .

Contact: 72 7087/ 36 3165

27th N ove mb er , 1985

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act·." ) 976

The Coalition was responsible for introducing the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) A c t , 1976 and continues to support this legislation. However, after seven years amendments are required to overcome identified problems arising

from the operation of the Act. * “

In particular, we will:

1. ensure the public has access to main roads for the purpose of traversing the land; * ■

2. require all land claims to be lodged by 31 December, 19 86;

3. provide that pastoral leases or other interests in land purchased by or on behalf of Aborigines is provided on the same basis as other land holders and cannot be converted to inalienable freehold;

4. ensure fringe dwelling communities are provided with secure title to appropriate land;

5. review the operation of the Act in relation to public purpose lands in consultation with Northern Territory Aborigines and the Northern Territory Government;

6. we will support the granting of secure tenure to protect communities who have been ordinarily resident on land within a pastoral lease by way of an excision of the Aboriginal settlement and this should be done under Northern Territory legislation as recommended by ' Mr Justice Toohey. _

Our land rights policy does not include:

1. overturning existing titles and resuming farming land or private property;

2. isolating vast areas from exploration and development;

the Commonwealth Government assuming State responsibilities in relation to Aboriginal Land. 3 .