Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

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Parliamentary Record 14


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




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 February 1999 as a part of our policy we put out in 1997 prior to the election. I might table a copy of that, Mr Deputy Speaker, in regards to native title solutions and regional agreements as we saw fit and still do. I am not just talking about native title claims and how we resolve those and attempt to resolve those, but more so on how economically we can develop if it is possible in conjunction with the government and the main stakeholders regions throughout the Territory in the true sense of regional development. Where these stakeholders are from business, from the pastoralists, from the Aboriginal community, all of those stakeholders need to be involved. We certainly believe that thats something we need to embark upon so that we take the best opportunity available to us in getting as much economic development and social cohesiveness that we certainly need in the Northern Territory. The amendment offered up by the Chief Minister is a move in the right direction, Mr Deputy Speaker; I think that - well, I know in fact on his report on his meeting with Galarrwuy Yunupingu, the Chairman of the Northern Land Council was positive in that they have agreed to meet on more occasions and certainly I hope that that type of meeting and the results of that meeting are going to be in the same vein when the Central Land Council Chair has an opportunity to meet with the new Chief Minister. I commend the Chief Minister for his amendment and look forward to hearing reports and participating in bringing, as much as I can, Territorians together, especially through the land councils and the government. Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Arnhem, do you still seek leave to table your document? Mr AH KIT: Yes. Leave granted. Mr ELFERINK (MacDonnell): Mr Deputy Speaker, I wasnt intending to speak on this one today, but having heard the Chief Ministers comments and having heard the comments from the Member for Arnhem, as well as the comments from the Member for Stuart, I feel compelled to make a few of my own observations. I hark back to the sittings on Tuesday 13 October 1998 when we were discussing the Reeves review into the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. And in that I made the observation that I had no objection to Aboriginal people owning land, I had no objection to Aboriginal people owning businesses, in fact I quote myself: I support the idea. I think it is a damn fine idea. It is a position that I have maintained the whole time I have been in this Chamber. Added to that, I also have no problem with the concept of native title. The concept of native title as was provided by the High Court of Australia in the Mabo No. 2 case and the Wik decision was the over-turning of what was essentially a legal absurdity and was generally accepted as a legal absurdity. However the High Court, in my opinion and in the opinion of the Howard government, when they bought down their 10 point plan dealing with native title, it was not exact enough in the manner of resolving the issues that were arising out of native title. As a consequence, it became blown up as a race issue when it should never have been so. This was never a race issue, it was an issue of land ownership and land management. And what I have found extraordinary, and I hope that the member for Amhem would take a moment to listen to what I have to say, is actually how close my position is to the member for Amhem. I would like to quote the member for Amhem in a book called Our Land Is Our Life, which was put out by UPP Press in 1997 and it was edited by the Chairman of the Northern Land Council, Galarrwuy Yunupingu. Mr Ah Kit: What did the wise one have to say? Mr ELFERINK: And the wise one said something very wise indeed, and I am actually going to quote the wise one because I want to agree with the wise one. And the wise one said this: The second lesson is that successes can be mutually beneficial and profitable between such companies and Aboriginal joint venturers. While there is a strong desire o f Aboriginal people to wholly manage commercial enterprises, we simply do not yet have the capital base, collective skills and knowledge to be able to do so on any scale in the immediate future. We can however, enter agreements where we can utilise the skills o f others as well as reaping mutual benefits from mutual desires to achieve commercial success. And, I will leave it at that, but that is a quote and I read that quote with some interest because basically that is what I have been trying to say since I have entered this Chamber. I agree, very closely, with what the member for Amhem had to say. I am after all a Liberal and as such I believe that a person who has ownership of land, and has ownership of property is allowed to use that property in whatever way that they see fit. The only issue that I take historically is that it is also a responsibility within the terms of the social contract that any person or 2820