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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1070

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (17:42): I think there is a misunderstanding. The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act is a Commonwealth law. It is an act of this parliament, and those provisions are decisions of this parliament. It is not a question of Territory law versus Commonwealth law. What I am saying to you is that this is the law. It is the current law of the land as enacted by this parliament. Our advice is that to try to include the same provisions in a separate bill is not advisable as it can create a set of legal complications. As I say, in a policy sense, we are in agreement, but our advice is to not accept the amendment because we think it would do damage to the intent. But the provisions you are seeking to uphold are provisions of Commonwealth law already passed by existing law agreed to by this parliament. We have an act that does that already, and we are seeking to amend another act to restate that. Our advice is that we should not do that. The policy intent is reflected in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act, which is an act of this parliament.