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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1089

Senator BOLKUS —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer the Minister to the view held by some elements in the community, which view is being fostered by the Northern Territory Government and certain Opposition members, that the Federal Government is in the process of handing over vast tracts of prime pastoral land to the Aboriginal people to the disadvantage of non-Aboriginal residents. Is this an accurate account of the true situation?

Senator GIETZELT —A number of statements have been made in recent times with respect to the symbolic gesture with which this Government is associated-the handing over of Ayers Rock to the Aboriginal people. A consequence of that action has been a number of statements which suggest an inaccurate picture has been drawn from the debate that has taken place. In preparation for the debate, I sought certain information, which has now come into my possession. I was not able to discuss it in full yesterday because of the way in which the debate took place. But what is indicated is that of the Northern Territory pastoral properties, 18.2 per cent are owned by individuals, and 38.4 per cent are owned by Northern Territory companies, which it is suggested include many companies with foreign shareholdings; and 37.4 per cent of pastoral properties in the Northern Territory are under foreign ownership, including such well known international figures as Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Sultan of Sabah, Kerry Packer, Lord Vestey and other similar-type foreign owners, as well as some Australian nationals. Only 5.9 per cent of the pastoral leases in the Northern Territory are held by Aboriginal people. According to figures supplied to me by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it appears that in 1983 Aborigines--

Senator Chaney —On a point of order, Mr President, I think it is quite out of order to call Kerry Packer a foreigner; it is Rupert Murdoch who is a foreigner.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order.

Senator GIETZELT —I am sure there are other notorious people involved in such ownerships. According to the figures supplied to me by the Bureau of Statistics, Aborigines comprise 57 per cent of the rural population of the Northern Territory-although some people have suggested that the figure is much higher than that; even up to 70 per cent. Therefore, to accuse Aborigines of dominating pastoral leaseholdings in the Northern Territory is clearly inaccurate and clearly false. It is evident that the policies of the Northern Territory Government have resulted in benefit to foreign companies to the detriment of all Territorians regardless of their race.

I was handed a document this morning which I find rather disturbing. It shows copies of advertisements placed in a Northern Territory newspaper in Alice Springs in 1982 saying:

Any person found trespassing, shooting or camping on--

Rather than read them all, I will just name a few of the areas concerned: The Hugh River Rainbow Valley area, Tempe Downs Station, Temple Bar Station, Undoolya Station, Yambah Station and the Owen Springs Pastoral Company. In one case there was a sign saying:

Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be prosecuted.

It would appear that, whilst many views have been expressed regarding the access of Australians to Aboriginal properties, it is pretty clear that Aborigines are not permitted to go on to properties owned by pastoral companies.