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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5135


Senator CHAMARETTE (2.47 p.m.) —I wish to confirm that the Greens support the amendment proposed by Senator Spindler, basically for the reason that the minister has just raised. We believe that unless this bill is to maintain the present standard and not remove existing access to and enjoyment of any land or waters currently held by Aboriginal or Islander people, this legislation is not worthy of support. This clause, therefore, is an important one.

  The special rights and interests of Aboriginal and Islander people should be recognised and preserved, whether by reservation, condition or usage through legislation, common law or equity. If the validation provisions contained in this bill are to work in a non-discriminatory fashion for Aboriginal and Islander people, these access enjoyment provisions must be incorporated in the bill.

  I ask the minister: as the proclaimed aim of this bill is to not erode native title rights but to preserve them in so far as they already exist, does he not realise that there are other aspects of native title that do not relate to land or title to land, but actually involve the cultural and spiritual activities of Aboriginal people? I would like him to specify which of those activities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the minister envisages would be covered by the Democrat amendment which is in conflict with a policy decision of the government. Why is the government, therefore, opposing the amendment?

  (Quorum formed)