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Thursday, 21 October 1993
Page: 2392

Dr HEWSON —I direct my question again to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. The minister may recall that yesterday the Attorney-General basically admitted that the issue of a valid pastoral lease may not completely extinguish native title; that there may be coexistent native title; and that there may be native title claims over valid leases. Yet in the minister's document, from which I quoted, issued in June, entitled `Rebutting Mabo Myths', he said that the grant of these titles extinguishes any native title. Who is right—the minister or the Attorney-General?

Mr Melham —They co-exist.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Banks.

Mr TICKNER —I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will allow me to be heard on this matter. I begin by saying that I stand by the document that I issued at that earlier time as being a fair summary of the High Court decision and as being totally consistent with what the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia said in this House yesterday. I will make it very clear and use some words—these are not from the Attorney-General or from some partisan source, but from what I think is an independent, credible and reputable source, and I also agree that they are a fair summary of the state of law in Australia—from Rick Farley, Executive Director of the National Farmers Federation.

  Opposition members—Ha, ha!

Mr TICKNER —If it is information that the opposition is seeking, it is information that it will get. In a letter to the government, Mr Farley said:

Four of the seven High Court judges in Mabo (no. 2) expressed the view that the valid grant of leases on the islands of Dauar and Waier would have extinguished native title. However, this was not part of the decision as it did not relate directly to questions put to the Court.—

Please listen carefully—

Our advice, and advice obtained by the Government, is that the grant of a pastoral lease is 99 per cent certain to have extinguished native title, except to the extent that reservations of Aboriginal interest already exist in statute—

He went on to name the jurisdictions in exactly the same way as I did in the published document. This is not an argument about legal niceties or about some theoretical matter—

Mr Lavarch —Ask me a question about it.

Mr Reith —You told the truth yesterday.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Flinders and the Attorney-General!

Mr TICKNER —This is part of a concerted campaign by the Leader of the Opposition to cause fear and loathing, hatred and division in the rural sector of this country. But the problem for the Leader of the Opposition is that, when he looks behind to see who is following, Premier Fahey is not there, Premier Kennett is not there, the National Farmers Federation is not there, and, as the Special Minister of State made clear, nor are the vast majority of fair-minded Australians.