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Wednesday, 12 February 1986
Page: 178

Senator KILGARIFF —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to an article in the Age of 11 February 1986 concerning the comments of Mr Gerry Hand, the member for Melbourne, on the Federal Government's intentions concerning Aboriginal land rights legislation. Given the statement by Mr Brian Burke prior to the West Australian election that he would resign if the Federal Government imposed land rights legislation on Western Australia, and given the Prime Minister's response that he had no problems with Mr Burke's position on land rights and that he did not expect that the Labor Party would be losing Mr Burke, can the Minister say whether the Prime Minister's comments are to be interpreted as meaning that there will be no Federal land rights legislation? If that was not the meaning conveyed by the Prime Minister's comments, is it still the Federal Government's intention to introduce uniform Federal land rights legislation? Noting the reference in the Age to a Federal Government decision to pursue a State by State approach to land rights legislation, does this not imply that each of the States has different needs and conditions in relation to land rights? That being the case, would it not be more appropriate for the States and Territories to deal with land rights in their own legislation, thus ensuring local expertise and familiarity with the particular needs of the people of the State or Territory would result in the most appropriate legislation being enacted?

Senator RYAN —I am advised by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Holding, that when he announced the Government's decision on the preferred model, which is a State by State model, in August last year he indicated that there were to be further discussions with Aboriginals, States, and the Northern Territory Government and other interest groups and that he would report back to Cabinet in the earlier part of this year. Those processes of discussion have been set in place and are well advanced and Mr Holding expects to be in a position to report to Cabinet within a few weeks. Until there has been that report back to Cabinet and Cabinet discussion and decisions in relation to it, there is nothing further to add to the statements regarding land rights that have already been made by the Prime Minister and Mr Holding.