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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5147

Senator O'CHEE (4.07 p.m.) —I thank the minister. I think he is starting to understand my concerns. When the minister answered the question he spoke as though the native title rights were in relation to the water. They could be in relation to the water or portions of the water in a river or lake, but I refer the minister to the definition of `onshore place', contained in clause 238 at the bottom of page 113. It states:

"onshore place" means land or waters within the limits of a State or Territory to which this Act extends;

It is not just as though the native title rights may appertain to a portion of water; they may also appertain to a portion of the land. That would still be an onshore place. One of the problems is a little definitional uncertainty because it does not quite say exactly what portion of the land. I will explain what I mean. Suppose there is a very large lease which fronts a river. A native titleholder may have rights in relation to a portion of that lease. For example, the lease area may be an area five miles deep with a frontage of three miles along the river, having a total area of about 15 square miles. If they have native title rights over any portion of that lease, it would appear to me that they would be able to exercise rights in relation to a portion of the adjoining river, notwithstanding the fact that the area that they may have an interest in may be five miles from the river. They are deemed to have an interest in the whole of that land, are they not?