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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5344

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (11.34 p.m.) —Is Senator Crane concerned about Aboriginals occupying a statutory reservation or a common law area within a larger pastoral lease occupied by someone else?

Senator Crane —Yes.

Senator GARETH EVANS —That is correct only if the Aboriginal people in question are the actual owners of the pastoral lease.

Senator Crane —That is not what you told us before.

Senator GARETH EVANS —That is not what I said before. If people want to convert a pastoral lease in which the presumption of extinguishment applies to a native title equivalent, the pastoral lease must be vested in them. If it is a matter simply of occupying a statutory reservation area and someone else's pastoral lease, where it is possible, as I said before, that some residue of native title applies because it can co-exist with that statutory or common law reservation, I guess the native title claimants could seek a determination as to whether they do have native title over the area of the reservation. I suppose it is possible—and that would have to be tested.

  The question is whether the granting of the lease originally, together with the statutory reservation—perhaps at the time of the granting of the lease—did or did not extinguish native title in relation to the reservation area. That would be a matter for determination. We cannot be decisive or definitive about that. It is just one of the situations in which a sliver of native title might still exist. A pastoral lease is the subject area.