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Tuesday, 21 December 1993
Page: 5413

Senator SPINDLER (2.32 p.m.) —I will deal with Democrat amendments Nos 25, 26 and 27. As I mentioned previously, amendment No. 23 is correcting a typographical error only and amendment No. 24 is withdrawn. Amendments 25 and 26 seek to enable native title applicants to choose a forum; we believe that this general principle which has been included in the bill should also be available to people who are in the early stages of a proceeding in a state court. These amendments therefore provide that, if people's applications are in the early stages, they should have the choice of removing their cases to the Federal Court.

  Amendment No. 27 deals with the limitation that the government has put in the bill on the age of people serving on the tribunal—the presidential members. The age limit in the bill is 65. It is, however, very clear that in Aboriginal culture wisdom and accumulated knowledge increase and repose in people of advanced age. That should not be lost by preventing people of an age greater than 65 from serving on the tribunal. We are therefore seeking to remove that age limit and I understand the government is supporting that measure.