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Wednesday, 28 October 1970

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for the Interior) - Some lime ago when I was in the Northern Territory I went to Croker Island and to Oenpelli. While I was at Croker Island the Aboriginals expressed to me their concern that a large tract of land had been granted to Union Carbide under an authority to prospect. They asked whether they could secure an area to prospect in that total area. I said that I would look at the question when I returned to Canberra, and I have since examined it. The facts are that in 1967 Union Carbide was granted an area of 5,680 square miles in which to prospect, lt was, in fact, an application for a renewal of an authority to prospect which was before the Mines Branch in the Northern Territory that was raised with me. The application for renewal shows that the area of 3,680 square miles has been reduced, under the regulations, to 1,838 square miles. I sent officers of the Mines Branch out to have discussions with the Aboriginals about the whole matter, particularly the application by Union Carbide for renewal of the authority to prospect. I believe that a happy agreement has been reached. The Aboriginals agreed that Union Carbide should have the prospecting authority tenewed. They have sought an area of about 500 square miles for themeslves. This has been approved by the Mines Branch, and the Aboriginals will be able to prospect in the area. I read with some interest in this morning's Press that a Mr Guiness of Melbourne is getting a solicitor to go to the Northern Territory to challenge this approval in the court. I do not really understand why this is so. I certainly do not believe that it is being done with the knowledge or the agreement of the Aboriginals concerned.

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