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Wednesday, 30 April 1980
Page: 1946

Senator MELZER - I present the following petition from 10 citizens of Australia:

To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:

Whereas before Europeans settled in Australia, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia had lived on their traditional lands from time immemorial and had in Aboriginal law and customs a clear title to those lands: and whereas Europeans and other non-Aboriginal people have occupied and used most of the traditional lands of the Aboriginal peoples against their will and without negotiation, compensation or treaty and whereas it has been the practice of nations established in territories previously occupied by indigenous inhabitants to reach a negotiated settlement with those inhabitants; and whereas that occupation has seriously damaged the traditional way of life of Aboriginal Australians and has caused poverty and hardship to be the fate of the great majority of their surviving descendants; and whereas the surviving descendants of the Aboriginal peoples have expressed a wish to have their rights to land acknowledged, to preserve their link with their Aboriginal ancestors and to maintain their distinctive identity with its own cultural heritage; and whereas the people of Australia in 1 967 voted overwhelmingly that the Commonwealth Parliament should have responsibility for laws relating to Aboriginal Australians; and whereas it is accepted internationally by the United Nations organisation, that each country should work to establish the rights of indigenous peoples to selfdetermination, non-discrimination and the enjoyment of their own culture; and whereas the Woodward Commission in 1974 established principles by which Aboriginal rights to land should be acknowledged and realised; and whereas the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament in February I975 resolved that Aboriginal Australians should be compensated for the loss of their traditional lands and for the damage to their way of life; and whereas the National Aboriginal Conference unanimously resolved in April 1979 in Canberra to ask the Commonwealth Government to negotiate a Treaty with Aboriginal Australians.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government should invite the Aboriginal people of Australia to negotiate a Treaty with the Commonwealth of Australia, and any Treaty should contain provisions relating to the following matters: (i) The protection of Aboriginal identity, languages, law and culture, (ii) The recognition and restoration of rights to land by applying, throughout Australia, the recommendations of the Woodward Commission, (iii) The conditions governing mining and exploitation of other natural resources on Aboriginal land, (iv) Compensation to Aboriginal Australians for the loss of traditional lands and for damage to those lands and to their traditional way of life, (v) The right of Aboriginal Australians to control their own affairs and to establish their own associations for this purpose.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Petition received.

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