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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5309

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (8.15 p.m.) —It is not a matter of determining its genuineness, but one of striking out those which are manifestly frivolous or vexatious. No doubt there are bases in practice for doing that.

  Taking into account what is in clause 56 and what is proposed to be put in by Green amendment No. 22(a), when we get to it, a substantial amount of practical information will have to be supplied, such as the nature of the claimants, the location of the property, the nature of the interest claimed and so on, together with an affidavit sworn by the applicant that the applicant believes that native title has not been extinguished, that none of the area is covered by an entry in the register, and that all the statements made in the application are true and so on. A slightly more substantial series of things associated with the application will be required to be in the bill than is there at the moment.

  Moreover, not only will the registrar continue to retain the power to strike out on the grounds of frivolity or vexatiousness; but also it will be possible for the presidential member to determine that the registration should not proceed on the basis that prima facie the claim could not be made out. So there is a quite rigorous test, which is a bit more substantial and useful in practice than a mere frivolous or vexatious test, to that which will then be available to be applied. Between them, those provisions will amount to a sufficient disincentive to any other than serious claims being lodged in the first place, quite apart from going through to determination.

Senator Vanstone —Did you canvass the prospect of penalties for frivolous or vexatious claims?

Senator GARETH EVANS —No. It is a big enough penalty to be struck out of the register rather than adding anything else. It is not contemplated that it will be an offence; it would be just struck out.