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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5259

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (2.34 p.m.) —There is no point in saying, with a great sense of triumph, that clause 25 does not necessarily cover the whole field in describing the things that are future acts that may impact upon mining or be necessary to take place in order that a mining venture can go forward. It may well be the case that something more than the particular acts set out here is required.

  It is the case, which Senator Bishop is not sufficiently acknowledging, that most grants of mining leases do make provision simultaneously for all the appropriate infrastructure to go with them. But to the extent that they do not, there is plenty of opportunity for other forms of permissible activity to occur.

  So far as government activity is concerned, the acquisition of land, be it ever so strongly held in native title terms, for a public works purpose—classically a road, I guess, into a particular site—can of course take place pursuant to the compulsory acquisition provisions that run through the legislation. Clause 22, in particular, bears upon that question. The further point needs to be made that while native title rights may involve exclusive occupancy and a right to exclude, that is not necessarily always the case.

Senator Bishop —I didn't say it was.

Senator GARETH EVANS —No. Just in case there is any misunderstanding about that—I do not wish to misstate what Senator Bishop says in the way that she regularly misstates what I say for some triumphant, forensic reason after I have sat down. If I sought to correct Senator Bishop's misrepresentations or missummaries of what I say, I would be here all day, and I do not want to waste that degree of time. Let the record speak for itself.

  I simply make the point that it is not to be assumed that native title will involve exclusive occupancy; that will depend on the circumstances of the particular native title in question. That is ultimately a matter for determination by tribunals.

  One way or another, it is perfectly possible for all the ancillary activity that may need to go on in association with a mining development to occur. Of course, the legislation has anticipated the necessity for some flexibility in this respect and, one way or another, by the different legislative routes that are mapped here and that are available under state legislation and so on, that can be achieved.