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Aboriginal Land Commissioner, NT

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The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Peter Baume, announced today that it is intended that Mr Justice W.J.F. Kearney, on taking up his appointment as a Judge of the N.T. Supreme Court on 13 April, be appointed as the Aboriginal Land Commissioner

in the Northern Territory. Mr Justice Kearney's appointment would be for a period of 3 years.

The Minister said that he was particularly pleased that Mr Justice Kearney, who was Deputy Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea was available to take up the position of Aboriginal Land Commissioner.

In making the announcement, Senator Baume praised the work of Mr Justice Toohey, who was appointed the first Aboriginal Land Commissioner in 1977 and whose present commission expires on 6 April.

Senator Baume said "both my predecessors and I have had the greatest admiration for, and confidence in, the way that Mr Justice Toohey has carried out his functions as Aboriginal Land Commissioner. He has pioneered an area of Australian law dealing with extremely sensitive and complex issues related to the examin­

ation of Aboriginal traditional ownership of land. He has built up a reputation of fairness and sensitivity both with Aboriginals and other people, appearing before him during the course of land claim hearings".

Senator Baume said that Mr Justice Toohey had often conducted hearings under the most testing circumstances and had shown himself to be a person capable of comprehending and giving expression to matters of considerable anthropological complexity. "The hearings he has conducted and the reports he has submitted constitute a significant contribution to the understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal culture in the Northern Territory".

Senator Baume said.

Senator Baume thanked Mr Justice Toohey for the work he had done as Aboriginal Land Commissioner and welcomed Mr Justice Kearney to his new appointment.


1 April, 1982 B8/82