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Thursday, 28 October 1993
Page: 2745

Senator O'CHEE —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the government intend in its Mabo package to prevent state courts from applying the normal rules of evidence to native title claims?

Senator GARETH EVANS —There are no provisions that I am aware of in the draft outline legislation that would go to evidentiary rules and their application in state courts. I cannot imagine any context in which it would be necessary to address that issue.

Senator Alston —Orally.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am indebted to Senator Alston for that constructive contribution. There are plenty of ways in which, under the existing rules of evidence, particular kinds of evidence, including of an oral kind, can be taken. It is essentially going to be a matter for the state courts systems themselves to determine how their processes work.

  If there is anything that needs to be added to that answer, I will be happy to seek further information and reply to it, but I cannot offhand think of any context in which it would be necessary for any change in the rules of evidence to be made that govern these cases.