Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 21 December 1993
Page: 5408


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (2.11 p.m.) —As to the latter question, it is the case that the only formal provision for alienation of the interest that the legislation deals with is the surrender to the Crown, but it needs to be remembered that the common law native title may itself be transferable, alienable, in accordance with the particular principles that govern that community as identified and determined by the courts. It may be that in a particular part of the country the notion of property transfer was in fact sufficiently well developed to enable that to be picked up and applied in a modern day context. That option is still open. But, apart from that, Senator Campbell is right; it is just the surrender situation.

  In terms of who might be prescribed bodies, it is certainly not intended that the land councils be bodies for this purpose. What we are talking about is specifically established bodies corporate—no more than one for each native title situation. We are not envisaging a multiplicity of them. The whole point of the exercise is to have a clearly discernible legal entity which can be the vehicle through which the rest of the world can deal with the title situation. As we have said several times, whether or not the title itself is formally vested in the body corporate will now be a matter of option, but the body corporate must itself exist at least as the agent of the native titleholders in order that there is that capacity to effectively deal in a modern day context where people cannot be expected to go out in the bush and have traditional meetings in order to do basic transactions.

  As to what kind of bodies may be prescribed bodies, I think the concepts that are broadly available are formal non-profit corporate entities under various corporations law statutes around the place or trust arrangements of one kind or another. I am also reminded that there is a Commonwealth Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act in existence which, through this creation of a kind of statutory corporate entity, creates another class of entities that would satisfy the kind of thing that this clause has in mind.