Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 a great number of cases, it does not serve to help a certain group of people. I intend to spend time with the Central Land Council at the first opportunity I have when next I am in Alice Springs, and I hope to meet with some of the people who are caught in this bind of not being able to mount a case for a living area under the current arrangements. I want to ensure that I have as full an understanding as possible of the plight these people are in. It is certainly a question that needs to be addressed in terms of equity and with some urgency because those people are getting older. Indeed, some have died without having been able to return to their traditional lands. Whether or not Land Acquisition Fund dollars can and would assist these people who appear to be locked out of the system at the moment is really beside the point. However, it remains an issue that needs to be addressed by this government. As I said, I take the ministers point and I will probably have more to say on this matter when we deal with the Pastoral Land Amendment Bill later in the year. I reiterate the oppositions support for this bill. Mr HATTON (Lands, Housing and Local Government): Mr Speaker, I welcome the strong support provided for this fairly simple but important amendment to the legislation. In relation to another bill which is currently on the Notice Paper but which will not be debated at these sittings, let me say that, if the member for Nhulunbuy intends to talk with the Central Land Council, I suggest he should talk also to the Northern Land Council. I offer him a briefing on the operation of the community living areas process, and also some of the difficulties and complications that are confronted by ourselves and the tribunal in trying to reach a resolution. That should provide him with a real understanding of the purpose of the legislation. Perhaps we can discuss issues such as the failure, in fact the reneging, by both the federal government and the land councils on the agreement associated with the creation of the community living areas legislation - the resolution of the stock routes and reserves claim. Members will be aware that, in 1989, the Lands Right Act was amended but, for some reason, it was worded that claims over stock routes and reserves cannot be heard by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner and therefore these are unable to be processed. Any applications that have been made cannot be heard. Because the application has been made under the Lands Right Act, we are prohibited from dealing with that land at all. Thus, the land sits in perpetuity in limbo. We have requested repeatedly that the land councils honour the agreement and withdraw the claim over the stock routes. It can never be heard and will never be granted and is nothing more than a continual source of annoyance and frustration to the government and the pastoral industry. Relationships are certainly being soured by this deliberately obstructive action. If the land councils continue in this way, we have put it clearly to the Prime Minister that the federal government should implement what it agreed to do. It can always amend the Land Rights Act or have the minister simply revoke the claim. We have been waiting for 6 years while the land councils leave it there like a bargaining chip which they will play time and time again. The opposition wonders why we get cranky. While the member for Nhulunbuy is talking to the Central Land Council, he might ask it the logic of continually insisting that land be granted for a community living area where no potable water is available. One thing we simply cannot do is create water where it does not exist. Many of the delays in the community living area process result from the simple fact that we have been unable to find water in the designated areas. In an attempt to facilitate the matter, we have written to the federal government and land councils where they have insisted on the grant of a specific area, and have said that we would not accept responsibility for the availability of water. We have 3309