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Thursday, 12 September 1985
Page: 519

(Question No. 388)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 20 August 1985:

Will the Federal Government introduce legislation in the 1985 Budget session to control the spread of Aboriginal land claims in Northern Territory pastoral areas (see The Bulletin, dated 4 June 1985); if so:

(a) what measures will the legislation include to protect public areas such as National Parks, and also stock routes and reserves;

(b) will such legislation include provisions for a deadline by which all claims should be lodged; and

(c) what is the attitude of the Government towards the provision of community living areas on pastoral leases.

Senator Ryan —The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Government will maintain its commitment to introduce legislation into the Parliament which will amend the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 following reviews of the Act by His Honour Mr Justice Toohey and by Dr Jon Altman. Such amendments will be consistent with the Government's overall position on national land rights.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has stated that there will be continued consultation with relevant parties to refine and develop acceptable amendments. The extent of these consultations may preclude such amendments. Being considered by Parliament during these sittings.

(a) The proposed amendments to the Act will overcome anomalies which presently allow claims to Aboriginal owned pastoral properties, stock routes, stock reserves and public purpose lands;

(b) Such legislation will be consistent with the principles encompassed in the national approach on land rights, which currently provides for a ten year deadline on applications for land grants;

(c) The Government is committed to the provision of secure title to Aborigines on community living areas excised from pastoral leases. By conferring an appropriate form of secure title the Government may provide essential services, including capital works, to these Aboriginal communities. The Government is encouraged by the initiative of the Northern Territory Government in taking its own action to provide these community living areas. It is my intention to review the progress made for excisions by the Northern Territory Government in October of this year, when the Territory procedural arrangements will have been in operation for six months.