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Wednesday, 8 December 1999
Page: 13015

Mr RUDDOCK (Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) (9:31 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill reflects the continuing commitment of this government to securing legitimate title to traditional lands on behalf of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 provides a mechanism whereby traditional Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, referred to in schedule 1 of that act, may be granted to Aboriginal Land Trusts to hold title on behalf of Aboriginal people by agreement. Since the act came into operation in 1977 a total of 61 separate parcels of land have been scheduled under the act. This amendment will bring the total to 64.

The effect of this bill would be to bring within schedule 1 of the Land Rights Act the three areas of land which are subject to the Warumungu land claim as it relates to the Rockhampton Downs Station. The land is situated about 100 kilometres to the north-east of Tennant Creek, near the Barkly Highway.

An agreement has been entered into between the Northern Territory government, the Central Land Council and the claimants. In addition to settling the Warumungu claim in relation to Rockhampton Downs, the agreement also finally disposes of the Frewena land claim.

As part of this agreement, the Commonwealth will exercise its powers under the Land Rights Act, with the support of the Northern Territory government, to grant the claim areas to the traditional owners by scheduling the respective areas under the Land Rights Act.

The result of this scheduling would be that no further hearing or report by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner would be necessary in order for the Aboriginal people concerned to be able to have the full rights of enjoyment of their traditional lands in fee simple, in other words, as freehold title.

The government has the assurance of all parties to the negotiations that representative views of all Aboriginal people concerned have been obtained and their wishes taken into account.

There are no financial implications arising from this bill. I table the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr O'Connor) adjourned.