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Tuesday, 15 October 1985
Page: 1217


Senator ROBERTSON —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs been drawn to an article in today's Australian which states that according to land rights author, Mr Peter English, the handover of the Ayers Rock title was going to the `wrong tribe'? Will the Minister inform the Senate as to the accuracy of the article and Mr English's claim?


Senator RYAN —My attention was drawn to that article and I have some information in relation to it. I think the first point that should be made clear to honourable senators is that the book referred to in the article in the Australian by Mr English-I am advised that this is not his real name but a pseudonym-Land Rights, Birth Rights-The Great Australian Hoax, is published by Veritas publishing company, the same company that publishes the notorious Red over Black by Geoff McDonald which is a publication widely and enthusiastically distributed by the racist organisation known as the League of Rights.

As to the accuracy of the claims made by the so-called Mr English, honourable senators should know that the Mutitjulu Community Incorporated, which has been said erroneously by the Opposition and in some media coverage, such as the article in today's Australian, to be the recipient of the grant of the title will not receive title to the park. Only land trusts can hold title to land and the Mutitjulu Community Incorporated is not a land trust.

For those who remain ignorant-some appear to do so deliberately-there is a waterhole on the south side of Uluru which is named Mutitjulu. When it was necessary to form an incorporated body to receive financial assistance for the community at Uluru, the word `Mutitjulu' was chosen for the name of that body.

Under the provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act a land trust has been established to hold title to the park. The name of that land trust is the Uluru-Katatjuta Aboriginal Land Trust. Its function as a land trust is to hold title to the land for the benefit of all Aboriginals entitled by Aboriginal tradition to the use or occupation of the land concerned. That means that the benefits of the title extend to a wider class of Aboriginal people than those said to be the traditional owners. The benefits extend to all Aboriginal people who have traditional rights in respect of that land.

The question of traditional ownership in respect of Uluru National Park was addressed by the then Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Mr Justice Toohey, in his report on Uluru (Ayers Rock) National Park and Lake Amadeus-Luritja land claim. While Mr Justice Toohey found the park to be unavailable for claim under the provisions of the Act he noted that two of the estates comprised in the remaining land available for claim had their hearts in the park. These two estates were Uluru and Katatjuta and Mr Justice Toohey listed no fewer than 104 and 57 traditional owners respectively.