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Lack of Senate scrutiny for land rights is wrong.

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ack of Senate Scrutiny for Land Rights is Wrong

Issued: 19 June 2006

Senator Trish Crossin says the major changes to the NT Aboriginal Land Rights Act need to be examined in detail in a Senate inquiry and not just rammed though Federal parliament this week.

“The Federal Government’s refusal to allow a short sharp Senate inquiry into the detail of the bill will just show their contempt for democratic processes and for the Aboriginal people of the NT.

“The Government has been throwing around ideas for changes to the Land Rights Act for ten long years.

“Then at the start of June they spring a whole range of new detailed changes to the act and give the Senate and NT Aboriginal people until this Thursday to debate it.

“In every piece of legislation there are drafting problems and unintended consequences, let alone in such a major rewrite of an Act that has a profound effect on the lives and aspirations of so many Aboriginal people in the NT.

“The government is putting enormous faith in their public servants and lawyers to have got the amendments right without giving the bills proper scrutiny before they become law.

“Both the major NT land councils have serious concerns about the legislation in areas ranging from how the leasing of land would work to the devolution of land council powers to bodies that may not be controlled by Traditional Owners or even local Aboriginal people.

“The amended act also relies on new NT legislation covering leasing which we have not been able to see or understand how it will operate with this legislation.

“It is in everyone’s interest to better understand the detailed workings of the amended act by allowing a Senate Inquiry.

“Giving Territorians less than three weeks to appreciate the detailed workings of these amendments is just displaying outrageous arrogance on the Government’s part” Senator Crossin said.