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Right to negotiate over land and water use is in our national interest: ACF



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MEDIA RELEASE 1 April 1998

ACF MELB.

ATTN: CHIEFS-OF-STAFF, POLITICAL, ENVIRO NM EN T REPORTERS

340 Gore Street, ’ritzroy

Victoria 3065

Telephone: 03 9 6 1166

Facsimile: 03 94, 6 076/

Right to negotiate over land and water use is in our national interest: ACF

Acting Executive Director of the ACF, Mr Michael Krockenberger, have called on the Government and the Opposition to recognise that protecting the native title right to negotiate on pastoral leases, rivers, and reserves is in Australia’s national interest.

“Protecting the Aboriginal right to speak for country in pastoral leases, rivers, or r eserves is in the national interest because it provides added value to Australia's land management system”, Mr Krockenberger said.

"Aboriginal involvement in the management of national parks has given Australia great natural icons like Kakadu and Uluru, and is the key to the environmental protection of regi ons like Cape York Peninsula and the Kimberley.”

“Aboriginal involvement in water management gives us a chance to ensure that the use of river systems such as the Murray-Darling is good for cultural values as well as natural values.”

“Aboriginal involvement in rangelands management would provide opportunities to ensure that lease upgrading or diversification of land use do not lead to damage of cultui ally important sites, wildlife, and landscapes."

Mr Krockenberger said that the ACF and the Australian environment movement have written to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to present these concerns, and that the issue must be properly considered before negotiations are finalised on the Native Titlo Amendment Bill.

Australia’s leading environmental scientists, the National Biodiversity Council, have also called on the Government to reconsider its amendments that enable the States to allow clearing, cropping, and irrigation on pastoral leases by compulsorily acquiring native title

rights.

“The environment movement would hold both the Government and the Opposition responsible for weakening Australia’s land management system if the rights to negotiate about land use on pastoral leases, rivers and water, and national parks were stripped away”, Mr Krockenberger said.

There are important additional benefits to be gained for the management of Australia’s land , and waters by retaining the right to negotiate of native title holders, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

For comment, contact Michael Krockenberger on 03-99266703 or 0419 373002