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Tuesday, 21 December 1993
Page: 5486


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (10.14 p.m.) —I will do the best that I can. Senator Ellison will be aware that under clause 208(3) the definition of `native title' includes native title rights and interests which have been compulsorily converted into statutory rights. This amendment provides that rights and interests which have been created by reservations or by conditions in pastoral leases—whether in the lease or by virtue of the legislation under which the lease was granted—are not converted by subclause (3) into native title. Because these rights and interests are created by statute, they cannot be native title under the definition in clause 208(1). This provision, 208(4), is making clear that 208(3) does not result in these rights being treated as native title by this bill.

  If, under the common law, a native title survives the grant of the pastoral lease—that is, of course, an issue that remains to be tested—it will then fall within the definition of native title in clause 208(1). The determination of this issue is left for the common law. We are not trying to pre-empt that process at the moment. That is again a rather complex explanation, but I hope it makes sense. If Senator Ellison has any further questions, I am happy to try to wrestle with them.