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Wednesday, 23 April 1980
Page: 1782

Senator CHANEY (Western AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I cannot add very much more to what I have said previously, but I pick up the parallel that Senator Cavanagh has used. Just as he said that a lawyer will not last long as a lawyer if he behaves in the way Senator Cavanagh indicated, nor will the Northern Land Council last very long as a land council if it behaves in the way Senator Cavanagh indicated. They are subject to much the same sort of discipline, namely that they can be dealt with by their clients. There is the additional safeguard of the fundamental democratic control of the land council. There is a difference between a normal European-style domestic or other commercial transaction and a transaction of the Land Council. That was underlined by the contributions of Opposition senators tonight who have talked about the Aboriginal way. What the land councils and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Teritory) Act provide is a Western legal umbrella for an Aboriginal system. Once we get behind the Western legal umbrella we get into a situation where the Aboriginals themselves have to sort out just what the rights are.

Although, in the case of claims in respect of unalienated Crown land which are brought before the Land Commissioner, it is true that he is presented with a list of owners, the honourable senator will know that for Schedule 1 land such lists do not exist at this stage. There is no undefeasible register. I do not believe that 1 can take the point any further. Senator Cavanagh has made it quite clear that as a matter of principle he does not accept that the amendment we propose should be made. Therefore, I think the matter has to rest as one on which there is a difference in the principle which is put forward. I regret that the difference exists but it seems to me, on the basis of the debate we have had, that it is inevitable.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

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