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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5338

Senator TAMBLING (10.59 p.m.) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Gareth Evans) would be aware that the proposals, under which the land acquisition fund will have considerable resources to enable it to purchase pastoral properties for the benefit of Aboriginal people, will subsequently result in claims to native title in many of those instances. In the case of the Northern Territory, the conversion will probably never be exercised because of the provisions of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act under which the Aboriginal people currently have the right to convert to inalienable freehold title.

  Given that for the last number of years the federal government has been saying that it would amend the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to preclude the conversion of pastoral leases under the Northern Territory act, I am keen to establish how the minister sees these two pieces of legislation working in parallel or working with some degree of compatibility. Given that there are quite extenuating circumstances, there will now be a slush fund that will enable the purchase of more properties.

  To date in the Northern Territory, there has been a considerable number of properties purchased—about 10 per cent of the properties of the Northern Territory have already purchased or have been converted or are in the process of being converted to inalienable freehold title under that provision. Therefore, I ask the minister to clearly explain the compatibility, comparability and the areas where the two fall out of whack, particularly as the government has been intending for some time to remove those conversion rights in the Northern Territory.