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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3192

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(8.01) —I make an observation with respect to clause 1, the short title of the proposed Act, which reads:

This Act may be cited as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage ( Interim Protection) Act 1984.

I would say that this is a misnomer in real terms. It gives the impression that it is simply an interim protection measure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage matters. The thrust of the legislation is that it provides for de facto land rights. It would be better described as something other than that. The provisions of the Bill as one goes through them one by one clearly demonstrate that the Minister by declaration is able to set aside land for a whole range of purposes, again by definition. Those definitions fall within the ambit of what might normally be described as land rights. The title in no way in my view is a reflection of the intention of the Bill. The intention of the Bill, as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) has said, is that it is to be an interim measure until such time as uniform land rights are introduced into the Parliament after the next election. We are told that further consultation is required in respect of uniform land rights. I understand that legislation has been drafted for some time now. It has been negotiated with the National Aboriginal Conference. In my view it in no way reflects on the greater and wider Aboriginal community. But it has been prepared and is subject to wider consultation with members of the Australian Labor Party who have an interest in these matters. In the meantime, the Minister has simply taken this Bill as a fallback position rather than gone ahead with legislation which he knows will be totally unacceptable to the community.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Elstob) —Order! I think the honourable senator should address his remarks to clauses 1 and 2 of the Bill.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —With respect, Mr Temporary Chairman, I was trying to demonstrate to you that the short title of the Bill is not a reflection of the intention of the Bill. I sought to demonstrate that by proceeding through the steps of what the Bill does in real terms and its relationship to further legislation. I was only using the words of the Minister who himself said that this was an interim measure, axiomatic upon uniform land rights being introduced . This Bill would then be incorporated into that legislation. That legislation is uniform land rights legislation and in no way intended simply to be restricted to heritage legislation. As a result of that, of course, one has to draw the conclusion that this is a holding position, to use the pun used earlier , in respect of uniform land rights which are intended to embrace all responsibilities for Aboriginals within Australia. So it is my view that the short title is not a reflection of the content of the legislation, nor is it a reflection of the intention of the legislation or a reflection of the clauses that describe the Bill as one moves through them one by one, even up to clause 32.

Clauses agreed to.

Clause 3 (Interpretation).