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Tuesday, 25 March 1980
Page: 941

Senator KILGARIFF - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. A draft Bill called the Aboriginal Land and National Parks Bill which is aimed at reducing conflict over claims to areas in national parks in the Northern Territory has been prepared by the Everingham Government in the Northern Territory. The Bill will recognise Aboriginal ownership and will set up a board to protect and enforce the right of Aboriginals entitled by Aboriginal tradition to use and occupy these areas. Can the Minister indicate the Federal Government's attitude to such legislation?

Senator CHANEY - I cannot indicate a final attitude because I have yet to put the legislation to detailed personal study. I support the general approach which is being adopted by the Northern Territory Government and the Northern Land Council in seeking arrangements which are satisfactory to the claiming traditional owners and to the interests of the Northern Territory Government and the Territory community in areas which are of significance, for reasons of nature conservation or things of that sort. I am looking forward to examining the results of the work which is done by both the Northern Territory Government and the Northern Land Council in that area. The matter is one which I think needs to be very carefully examined to make sure that the interests of the Aboriginal people are preserved. But my understanding is that the arrangements are meant to be without prejudice to any rights which the Aboriginal people have under the Act. If, in fact, the Bill is able to produce consensual arrangements which satisfy both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, I think that will be a very positive achievement. I look forward to giving the matter careful consideration over the next few days.

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