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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5068

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (10.44 p.m.) —It is just a matter of misconstruing the concept of management. The kind of management issue that the Racial Discrimination Act is dealing with is where the interests of Aboriginal people are being managed by others in a way that may operate discriminatorily against their own interests. That is not the role of the body corporate as it is established here under proposed section 53. Under that proposed section, the role of the body corporate is to create someone who can act on behalf of the native titleholders.

Senator Alston —To do what?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Negotiations with mining companies and things of this kind. There have to be agreements entered into. The mining company has to sign something with somebody.

Senator Alston —Management?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It is not managing the native titleholders' interests; it is exercising their interests in performing functions to other external bodies or people, whether they be mining companies or people of that kind. The transmission belt runs the other way; it is from the native titleholders to the body corporate as the vehicle. We will make it an optional vehicle. At the moment, it is a compulsory vehicle. The transmission belt runs from the native titleholders to the body corporate in order to do various things—basically, just to hold the title—but, maybe on occasions, to be the formal vehicle for communications, agreements or whatever with mining companies or other outsiders. The transmission belt runs that way.

  The problem that the Racial Discrimination Act deals with is when the interests of Aboriginal people are being managed by other people over them, possibly against their interests and their will, in a discriminatory fashion. The transmission is running the other way. It is Aboriginal people who are on the receiving end of control, direction and management by others. That is the context which can be discriminatory. That is why we need to have a provision in the Racial Discrimination Act to deal with it, but it is not the situation here where we are dealing with a transmission at will to produce results running the other way.