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N.T. issues



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MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS Senator the Hon. E M. Chaney N.T. ISSUES

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. Joint Statement by the Chief Minister for the Northern Territory, Paul Everingham, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Fred Chaney, Chairman of the Northern Land Council, Mr Galarrvmy Yunupingu, Chairman of the Central Land Council, Mr Menten Rubuntja, and Chairman of the Tiwi Land Council, Mr Cyril Rioli: — -

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Over the last few days, discussions have been held between the Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government, and the Land Councils and the Commonwealth Minister. Today the three Land Councils met with the Northern Territory Chief Minister

and the Commonwealth Minister.

1) Registration of Titles: · ,

The dispute between the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth and the Land Councils is as follows: . .

a) : The Commonwealth has prepared ddeds of grant to land ! trusts in respect of the land described in Schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Aqt.

b) Except in the cases of Delissaville, Yuendumu, Alligator Rivers No. 1, Beswick, Jay Creek and Uoolwonga, roads over which the public had a right of way (if any) at 'the time of the grants have not been excluded from the deeds.

c) Section 3(5) of the Act provides that a description of the land in Schedule 1 shall b'e deemed not to include any land on which there was,. at;the commencement of the section, a road over which the public had a right of way.

d) Section 12(3) of the Act proyiMei·that a deed of grant shall identify any land on which there is, at the time of the grant, a road over which the public has right of way and shall be expressed to exclude such land from

the grant.

e) It is the view of the Commonwealth and the Land Councils that there were no roads which needed to be excluded from' the grants, with the exception of the grants named in (b) above. - . . —

f) It is the view of the Government of the Northern Territory that there were a number of roads which were roads over which the public had a right of way at the material time and which, therefore, should have been excluded from the grants.

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A suggested solution to the problem is as follows:

a) The deeds be amended so as to specifically exclude, in general terms, roads over which the public has a right of way and any issue as to which roads fall within that description can be resolved after the deeds of

grant have been registered in that amended form.

b) In view of the requirement in Section 12(3)(a) that the deeds of grant should identify the roads, an amendment to the Act will be necessary to enable the deeds to provide that roads over which the public has a right of way shall be excluded from the titles, without the necessity for the roads to be specifically identified. A suggested amended section 12(3) would read as follows:

"A deed of grant under this Section shall be expressed to exclude from the grant any land on which there is at the time of the grant a road over which the public has a right of way and it

shall not be necessary for the deed to identify any such land."

c) The Government of the Northern Territory would pass legislation restricting the use of roads traversing Aboriginal land by a system of permits similar to the permit system created by the Aboriginal Lands Act, provided that there would be a right of appeal by an unsuccessful applicant

to the Administrator in Council.

d) This suggested solution is subject to the consents of the Land Councils and to closer examination by the legal advisers to all the interested parties. The Commonwealth Government would need to agree to amend the Act.

e) This arrangement is intended to preserve the existing rights of the parties.

(2) Land Claims by Borroloola People:

The Northern Territory Government has put down a framework for discussions between it and the Northern Land Council and the Borroloola Council which it is hoped will lead to agreement on proposals which can be put to both the Commonwealth Govern­ ment and lit Isa Mines. These proposals will involve, among

other considerations, provision for essential town, transport and port services for the area with; provision being made for v·, additional land for the Borroloola people. Pending the outcome of these talks the Commonwealth is to hold action with respect

to the recommendation of the Land Commissioper in respect to the Borroloola Common. The Commonwealth will at the request of the Borroloola Council investigate whether titles can be issued to the islands which were recommended by the Land Commissioner pending resolution of the other matters.

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(3) Extension of Town Sites:

The Northern Territory Government indicated that it had no further extensions in contemplation within the period of the land freeze. The only exception to this would be arrangements relating to the McArthur River development which are subject

to the discussions mentioned in paragraph 2. The Northern Territory Government is to discuss with the Land Councils the extensions made to Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine with particular reference to land claims which may be affected.

(4) Right of Resumption: _

The Northern Territory Government has raised with the Commonwealth its wish to have the power to resume Aboriginal land for public purposes. Senator Chaney has requested the Northern Territory Government to use the existing provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act to obtain land

for such purposes.

(5) .

The Northern Territory Government has raised with the Commonwealth Minister the concern about the conversion of -pastoral leases and other leasehold interests held by Aboriginals to Aboriginal Land subject to the Commonwealth Act. Senator

Chaney agreed this posed problems for the Territory and possibly those Aboriginals who have taken leases as pastoralists not as traditional owners. He undertook to have the matter examined after which he will have further discussions with the Northern Territory Government and the Land Councils.

DARWIN N.T. 17 March. CANBERRA, ACT 19 March, 1979 • 7 9 / 2 0