Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002

Details:

Title

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002

Other title

Parliamentary Record 9

Collection

Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005

Date

2002-11-27

Notes

Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Language

English

Subject

Debates

Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication

Darwin

File type

application/pdf

Use

Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Parent handle

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/278488

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/421010

Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 which such entry is subject, establishing a procedure for the avoidance o f sacred sites in the development and use o f land and establishing an Authority fo r the purposes of the act and a procedure for the review of decisions o f the Authority by the minister, and for related purposes. The Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, and the earlier Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1978, were enacted under power of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act of the Commonwealth. It was replaced in 1989 with the current act which commenced on 15 August that year. Specifically, section 73 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act provides for the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly to enact reciprocal legislation to the Land Rights Act, including: laws providing for the protection of, and the prevention o f the desecration of, sacred sites in the Northern Territory, including sacred sites on Aboriginal land, and, in particular, laws regulating or authorising the entry of persons on those sites, but so that any such laws shall provide for the right o f Aboriginals to have access to those sites in accordance with Aboriginal tradition and shall take into account the wishes o f Aboriginals relating to the extent to which those sites should be protected. It is important to appreciate the complementary effect of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. The effect of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act is prior to, and independent of, the Northern Territory (Self- Government) Act 1978 or Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. Section 69 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act forbids anyone other than Aboriginal custodians acting in accordance with Aboriginal tradition, from entering and remaining on any land in the Northern Territory that is a sacred site except for the purposes of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act or under a law of the Northern Territory. I emphasise that this blanket exclusion from all sacred site land applies to all landowners and all users of land in the Northern Territory. Currently, there are in the order of 11 000 such sites recorded in the Northern Territory, of which 1503 are registered sacred sites. The vast majority of recorded and registered sites are off Aboriginal land. The Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act is the law of the Northern Territory that, under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, provides relief to landowners and to other users of land in respect of sacred sites. It does so in two ways. First, there is section 44 of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. This provides that landowners and persons with their permission may enter and remain on sacred site areas and do anything there for the normal enjoyment of their proprietary interest in the land, though they may be subject to conditions necessary to avoid damage to the sacred sites. Secondly, the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act provides a defence against prosecution for entry and carrying out works on sacred sites if these are in accordance with an authority certificate. Members will be aware of the critical importance of the authority certificate processes to the Northern Territory. In effect, the site avoidance provisions of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act under which authority certificates are issued, transfers the risk in relation to sacred sites from developers or users of the land to the authority and, hence, ultimately, to the government. To date the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority has issued 2312 authority certificates that identify in total about 5000 areas where works are restricted to avoid damage to sacred sites. Many of these certificates continue to have effect for continuing uses of land across a range of economic and social activities. It is only necessary to point to a few examples to indicate the importance of authority certificates for development in the Northern Territory. The Alice Springs to Darwin railway is being constructed under the provisions of an authority certificate; likewise, the Bradshaw Defence Training facility, the McArthur River Mine, tourism at Uluru, and the use of areas in national parks proceed under conditions set out in authority certificates. These examples provide a brief indication of the range and importance of the authority certificate processes for the social and economic development of the Northern Territory. Without these provisions of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, projects like these and uses of land on smaller scales that involve land comprising sacred sites could not proceed in the Northern Territory, given the blanket protection of sites under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Legislative Assemblys powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Territory are limited under section 50(1) of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978. This precludes it making laws with respect to the acquisition of property otherwise than on just terms. At present, the act does not provide for compensation to be paid on just terms in the event 3070


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