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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3374

Mr REEVES —Will the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs advise the House when he expects to receive the report on the review of the Aboriginal Land Rights ( Northern Territory) Act, which is being undertaken by His Honour Mr Justice Toohey?

Mr HOLDING —Honourable members will be interested to know that I received Mr Justice Toohey's report on Monday, 5 December. It is a very extensive report of approximately 370 pages and represents a major effort on the part of His Honour and his assistants. It is to their credit that such an extensive report has been completed within a very short period. I have indicated on previous occasions that it is my intention to make public the report and its recommendations so that those directly affected by it, particularly those people living in the Northern Territory, will have an opportunity to make comment upon the contents of the report prior to this Government taking any decisions in relation to those recommendations. Accordingly, I have issued directions that the report be printed as a matter of urgency. I hope possibly to have it tabled tomorrow. As soon as sufficient copies are available I will ensure that the honourable member for the Northern Territory, the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, the Aboriginal land councils, and other organisations and individuals who made submissions to Mr Justice Toohey receive copies of the printed report. I expect such copies to be available before the end of the month. I have also asked that sufficient copies be printed to permit interested members of the general public to obtain copies as well.

I will not go into all the detail of the report other than to say it covers in a very principled way and outlines many of the basic problems of interpretation that have been thrown up in respect of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act. I believe the recommendations made by His Honour will provide a very important contribution to the continuing debate on the improvement of that legislation.