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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5313


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (8.37 p.m.) —We were unable to persuade others who were likely to contribute to a majority on this matter that the change was worth making—that is the short answer for that. We would not have had the numerical support for it. I think the amendment was not a terribly substantial matter concerning clause 25(4). The original clause in the legislation reads:

(a)the Commonwealth Minister considers the act will have minimal effect on any native title concerned . . .

The amendment was to substitute `land' for the words `native title' so that it read `minimal effect on any land concerned'. I suppose that the use of the word `land' is a more objective test. It does not necessarily presume the existence of native title, which might not be clear until the determination process has been gone through. That is why we thought there might be some virtue in having a lesser test just to look at the land, rather than at the native title which implies the particular kind of usage of that land.

  We discovered that the support was not there for that amendment and so there was no particular point in moving it. The concept is essentially the same. One has to look at the impact on the land itself in order to look in turn at what the impact on the native title for that patch of land would be. We have to be looking at the same sort of thing. It might have made it a bit easier to satisfy in practice if we limited it to looking at the impact on the land rather than the title. That is the process of reasoning and the politics of that amendment.