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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5131

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (2.25 p.m.) —I cannot give an instant response as to what the statutory provisions are state by state. I certainly know, for example, there are statutory reservation provisions under the Crown Lands Act of Western Australia, which makes provision for reservation for purposes of Aboriginal—

Senator Crane —Under the lands act?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Under the Crown Lands Act; I think that is right. I think there are probably similar provisions in most other states—certainly in the Northern Territory and South Australia; not in Queensland, I am advised; and I am not sure what the situation is so far as New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania are concerned. We can find out and let Senator Crane know, but I do not think it affects the future of this clause. It will take a little time to find out. The truth of the matter is that in at least three jurisdictions in Australia there are provisions of this kind which make allowances for Aboriginal people's interests to be preserved in this way. Also, I should have added before, the common law, as well, is thought by some people to give possible coverage for some operation for a sort of residual native title right; it is not just the statutory reservations.

  I suppose it will be a matter in due course for argument because nobody is in a position to be confident one way or the other about the outcome of that. I am advised that our judgment has been that there probably will not be any residual native title right, as such, retained under the umbrella of those statutory or common law reservations; that it is simply in the nature of a statutory or common law right, different in kind from native title. But that is something that could be tested and, no doubt, will be.