Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 3 March 1992



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 3 March 1992

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Parliamentary Record 9


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




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 - Tuesday 3 March 1992 that is possible by legislation. I believe the consideration that the opposition has given to this bill will assist in that regard. Other groups have a keen interest in this bill. There are Aboriginal people who have traditional interests in particular living areas. Many of them have lived and worked on those stations for many years. Under the community living area provisions of the legislation - contentious as they were and contentious as they continue to be in some quarters - these people have been provided with living areas following negotiation. Another interest group that must be given due recognition in this debate are urban Territorians who are keen to have the opportunity to visit particular places on pastoral land. The basis on which they do so is addressed by this bill. There are also the environmental lobby groups which have made strong representations, through organisations like the Environment Centre, in relation to this legislation. The opposition has given consideration to many of the issues that have been raised. The Aboriginal land councils, particularly the Northern Land Council, have expressed some concern about the relationship between the Memorandum of Agreement that was passed into law more than 2 years ago and the operation of the letter of that particular legislation. I turn now to what I see as the broad issues of concern with respect to this bill. A major issue is that of the maximum holding areas and the competing policy objectives in that regard. A second issue of concern is what I refer to as the public access issue, the public access right that is provided to perennial natural waters and to places of public interest. Something that continues to be of concern to Aboriginal people is the operation of the community living areas legislation. Turning to the maximum holding areas aspect of the bill, a number of points need to be made. There is some difficulty in respect of this debate because, as honourable members would be aware, litigation is on foot between 2 corporate lessees of pastoral leasehold land, and this question of maximum holding areas is very much a live issue. It is not my intention to refer directly to that litigation. No doubt, when that litigation between Peter Sherwin's company and the Australian Agricultural Company is concluded, there will be, quite appropriately, further discussion about the issues raised by that litigation. Maximum land holdings have always posed a vexed question as far as pastoral leases are concerned. I mentioned earlier competing policy concerns. One of the important policy issues with pastoral land has been the opportunity for the battler to obtain and develop a holding for himself. It has been that policy that has driven the enactments in the Crown Lands Act to provide a specific maximum holding. It is very difficult to settle on a particular figure as the maximum holding. The opposition has had a great deal of difficulty in coming to a particular view in that regard. Whereas we accept the importance of that policy directive, it is a matter of concern that there have been so many competing views. Another competing policy issue is the need to develop the Territory's pastoral resources in the most economically rational fashion. A 13 000 km2 limit would prevent some lessees having more than one holding, given the range in size of properties, many of which are like Andado in central Australia, which is in the vicinity of the upper limits, being a property of nearly 11 000 km2. In those circumstances, it is difficult to see that that 13 000 km2 maximum is entirely reasonable. 4120

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