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End native title disadvantage: ATSIC Chair.



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Media Release

End Native Title Disadvantage: ATSIC Chair

 

11 February 2002

 

The Federal and Queensland Governments should put an end to the continuing disadvantage being suffered by native title claimants.

This is the only sensible response open to Governments following the decision of the Federal Court last Friday declaring aspects of the Queensland native title scheme are invalid.

The Federal Court ruled that each of the Federal Attorney-General’s determinations made under section 43 of the amended Native Title Act 1993 in relation to the Queensland native title scheme are invalid and without legal effect.

The Court found the Commonwealth Attorney had no jurisdiction to make determinations about State laws that were not at that time in operation.

The decision highlights the fact that even if the Commonwealth Attorney could have made valid determinations, State Governments can subsequently amend their native title schemes to the detriment of the rights and interests of native title holders without the need for a further detemination by the Commonwealth Attorney General

Imporantly, the Court also found native title holders are in a more disadvantageous position under the current Queensland Mineral Resources Act than are freeholders.

This decision is further evidence the Commonwealth Act does not give primacy to the rights and interests of native title holders.

The Court’s conclusion that Indigenous people continue to be disadvantaged is a total vindication of the public opposition from ATSIC and native title representative bodies to the Howard Government’s 10 point plan.

I would urge the Federal and Beattie governments to accept this judgment as a perfect opportunity to remove the disadvantage being suffered by native title holders in Queensland.

While this disadavantage continues uncertainty and instability will continue for everybody, not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander native title holders.

Geoff Clark ATSIC Chairman

Further media inquiries: Mark Heward 0417724292

 

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