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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 213

Mr BRYANT (Wills) (Minister for Abor iginal Affairs) - by leave - For the information of honourable members, I table the first report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission. I should like to thank the Commissioner for the work that he has done and the steps that have been taken to launch us upon a very important and complicated project - the establishment of the land rights of the Aboriginal people of . Australia. The report was made public on 3 August and copies were sent to all honourable members and senators. Because of its importance, it was decided to make the report available immediately. I take this first opportunity to table the report in the Parliament. I should like to inform honourable members that the Government has considered the report and the Commission's recommendations and has authorised me to convene meetings of the 2 proposed Aboriginal land rights councils in the Northern Territory as soon as possible. We will proceed immediately with the preparation of draft legislation for the incorporation of Aboriginal communities and groups without waiting for the Commission's final report, which is not expected to be available for another year or so. To assist each of the land councils, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has been authorised to retain senior and junior counsel and firms of solicitors or arrange for the councils to employ individual solicitors. The cost of this is to be met by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

There is some significance in this report being placed before the House in the year 1973. It was 10 years ago that we started to campaign about Aboriginal land rights for the people of Yirrkala. It has been a long haul, but I am pretty confident now that the community in general, this Parliament in particular and certainly the Government accept that the Aboriginal people of Australia are entitled in an inalienable way to an absolute right to a certain proportion of the Australian territory. I believe this is a landmark in Aboriginal affairs. I hope that in the ensuing debate, which we will arrange as soon as possible, all honourable members who have something to say about this subject will take the opportunity to do so. I present the following paper:

Aboriginal Land Rights Commission - Ministerial Statement, 22 August 1973. and move:

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.

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