Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018; Second Reading
I present the explanatory memorandum to this bill and I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
It is my pleasure to introduce the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018 to the chamber. The bill demonstrates the government's commitment to recognising traditional Aboriginal ownership of land and to finalising land claims in the Northern Territory which have remained unresolved for decades. It delivers on the government's election commitment to resolve outstanding Aboriginal land claims in the Northern Territory and to work with Indigenous landowners to ensure their land rights deliver the economic opportunities that should come from owning land.
This bill gives practical effect to our commitment to working in partnership with Indigenous Australians. The government is committed to the recognition of Indigenous land through statutory land rights and native title, and we are working with traditional owners and land councils to make sure these are resolved as soon as possible.
The bill adds areas subject to four traditional land claims in the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory to schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the land rights act, so that the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. It also provides for the lease back of that land to the director of national parks.
The bill also adds land that was subject to a successful native title application in the Roper River region of the Northern Territory to schedule 1 of the land rights act so that the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. Scheduling of the land is consistent with the terms of the Township of Urapunga Indigenous Land Use Agreement, executed by the native title parties and the Northern Territory government.
In addition, the bill adds land that is associated with the settlement of the Anthony Lagoon area land claim to schedule 1 of the land rights act so that the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. Scheduling of the land is consistent with the terms of the Anthony Lagoon area land claim No. 74 deed of settlement, executed by the parties associated with the land claim and the Northern Territory government.
The four land claim areas in the Kakadu region comprise approximately 50 per cent of Kakadu National Park. Title to the majority of that land is held by the director, a Commonwealth statutory office holder. Smaller land parcels subject to the land claims are Crown land held by the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth. The balance of the land in the park is already Aboriginal land and leased by the director from the Aboriginal Lands Trust, which holds title. The land claims were lodged between 1984 and 1997.
While they remain unresolved there are statutory limitations on dealing with the land. This has constrained potential developments in one of Australia's iconic tourism destinations and adds a layer of complexity to the joint management arrangements in place between traditional Aboriginal owners and the director.
The parties to the land claims have agreed to settle on the basis of the land being scheduled for grant as Aboriginal land, subject to immediate lease back to the director of as much of the land as is required to continue to form part of that park. The director is not the Crown for the purpose of the land rights act in its current form, and that would prevent the land from being granted after it is scheduled.
The bill amends the land rights act to allow deeds of grant for the land to be delivered to the Aboriginal Lands Trust and to take effect despite the interests of the director. The bill also repeals certain existing provisions of the land rights act relating to land descriptions in the Kakadu region that will be made redundant by adding the relevant land to schedule 1.
The grants of these lands is supported by stakeholders, including the Northern Territory government, the Northern Land Council and other local stakeholders. I commend the bill to the chamber.
I'm pleased to be able to speak to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018. I want to make a number of observations, but, firstly, I'd ask the question: why aren't we also debating conjointly another bill that gives scheduled land in the Northern Territory? It's the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Land Scheduling) Bill 2018, which relates to land at Ammaroo, north-east of Alice Springs.
I propose to move an amendment and I'll move it now. I move:
That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes that:
(1)this bill was introduced into the Parliament nearly 12 months ago;
(2)despite the bipartisan support for the bill, the Government has until today failed to progress the legislation; and
(3)traditional owners deserve to have their settled land claims progressed in a timely fashion".
I live in Lingiari, obviously. My seat is in the Northern Territory, and all the Aboriginal lands under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act are in my electorate. Prior to coming to the parliament, my job was policy adviser at the Central Land Council in Alice Springs, dealing with the administration of the land rights act and matters related to it. The director for whom I was working at the time is the now senator Patrick Dodson. His brother Mick was working for the Northern Land Council at the time as a legal officer. I want to use this opportunity to say congratulations to Mick, Professor Dodson, on being announced as the treaty commissioner in the Northern Territory. He'll do a marvellous job. He was born in Katherine and is a Territorian of great note, and he has spent a lot of time representing the interests of Aboriginal people across this nation. He's well recognised nationally and internationally, and he'll do a great job. His brother Pat, of course, is a different kettle of fish. He's here, with us, thankfully, and I'm very pleased he's here. I'd hoped he'd be here some years earlier. I did try, but it wasn't to be. Thank the Lord he's here now, though, and I'm pleased to have him here as someone who's got wisdom and guides us all in one way or another.
So my background, coming into the parliament, was directly related to the land rights act. I understand the act and how it works, and I understand the aspiration that Aboriginal people have to gain control of the land for cultural and other purposes. Most particularly, it is to return the land to them so they can carry on their cultural and spiritual obligations as owners of that land. But it also provides an opportunity for development, for leveraging their ownership of the land for economic purposes, and I'll come to that in a little while.
But I do want to again make the observation that this legislation was in the parliament 12 months ago. Why have we waited so long? And, unless the Leader of Government Business cares to put the other bill, the land scheduling bill, forward and make sure we debate it tomorrow or the next day, we're unlikely to debate that bill in this parliament, which means that that land at Ammaroo will not be returned, and that would be a great shame. So I ask the government to prioritise that legislation. It won't take long. There's no dispute about it. We agree on it, as we do on this piece of legislation, but it's a shame that it's not here before us today.
I want to go into some detail on this legislation because I think it is important. The minister at the table has actually given a decent enough summary. The bill was initially presented in two schedules, but, since its introduction, the government has circulated an additional third schedule to list Anthony Lagoon lands in schedule 1 of the bill. The amendments add parcels of land within Kakadu National Park, the township of Urapunga and, in proposed amendments to the bill, Anthony Lagoon Station, to the listing of schedule 1 of the act, enabling them to be granted as Aboriginal land. Now, that's important because—for those who don't know—under the land rights act, land scheduled as Aboriginal land is inalienable freehold title. It's possibly the strongest title in the country. It cannot be bought, sold or transferred. It is inalienable. It is Aboriginal land forever. That's a really important recognition. Almost 50 per cent of the Northern Territory is Aboriginal land under the land rights act. That's important because it means Aboriginal people have security in terms of the land. It's a recognition of their historical dispossession, but at the same time it compensates for that dispossession by making sure that that land is inalienable freehold title.
I want to acknowledge that the land rights act was initially developed by the Whitlam government and then passed by the Fraser government in 1976. It's an important piece of legislation, something which, historically, is probably the high watermark of land rights legislation in this country and something which the parliament should be proud of. Noting that it was introduced by the Whitlam government and subsequently passed by the Fraser government is an important recognition of the bipartisan support it had at the time and, I think, continues to have.
There have been periods when it's been under the threat. The Howard government, in particular, sought to review the land rights act and weaken its provisions. Some of you will recall—too many people here are a bit young and won't remember—that in the 1980s, during the period when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, there was a campaign for national land rights, which shamefully was scuppered because of the Labor Premier in Western Australia, Brian Burke. I remember vividly the depictions of Aboriginal land in advertisements during the campaign against national land rights by the Western Australian government. It was shameful. I was working at the land council at the time. We were concerned that national land rights as wanted by the Western Australian government would have undermined, weakened and taken away the rights of the land rights act in the Northern Territory. It would have been lowest common denominator politics. I well remember, when I was employed by them, working with now Senator Dodson and the Central Land Council, and Aboriginal people from across the Northern Territory coming to Canberra. We would lobby consistently. We were forever here lobbying the government not to pursue the Burke land rights legislation. Clive Holding, poor bugger—he's no longer with us, God rest his soul—was the minister at the time. It was a very difficult period. I remember well truckloads of Aboriginal people coming from Central Australia into Canberra, which we helped organise, to demonstrate on the front steps of the old Parliament House against the Labor government at the time and what they were proposing to do to the land rights act. So this is a very strong piece of legislation, which has withstood a lot of threats and attacks, and I think we need to be very proud that it's still here in this place and seen as something that is very important.
We've heard that the land is at Anthony Lagoon and Urapunga, and the minister referred to the four land claims inside Kakadu. It is well to remind us what those land claims are. One is the Ngombur (Repeat) Land Claim No. 93, first lodged with the Aboriginal Land Commissioner as far back as 23 November 1984. The second is the Alligator Rivers Area III (Gimbat and Goodparla) Land Claim No. 111, lodged with the land commissioner on 26 June 1987. The third is the Kakadu (Jim Jim) Area Land Claim No. 122, lodged with the Aboriginal Land Commissioner on 18 April 1989. The fourth is the Kakadu Region (Repeat) Land Claim No. 179, lodged with the Aboriginal Land Commissioner on 29 May 1997. The parties of the land claims have agreed to settle the claims on the basis of the Kakadu land being scheduled for grant as Aboriginal land under the land rights act, on the condition of an immediate leaseback of the Kakadu land to the director.
Just to understand what that's about, it's important that the context of the Kakadu land grant and the land claim is understood historically. You will recall—well, I'm not sure that too many people in this place will recall—that from 1975 to 1977 the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry coincided with the preparation for land rights legislation. Accordingly, Justice Fox was given the powers of a commissioner to examine land rights claims to the Kakadu area. Justice Fox found that Aboriginal groups had traditional land rights and endorsed a Northern Land Council suggestion that Kakadu be granted to traditional Aboriginal owners then leased back to the Commonwealth and declared a national park. That's what's happening here. This land is being granted and then leased back to the Commonwealth as a national park. Some areas were excised for the uranium mines: Ranger, associated with the town of Jabiru. This is important because the bulk of the current Aboriginal land within Kakadu is grants recommended by Justice Fox from the 2013 Jabiluka land grant.
The Kakadu National Park was extended from 1984, 1987, 1989 and 1991. It's important that that historical context is understood. It's not an accident of history. This is because of a deliberate decision by Aboriginal people in Kakadu, once they successfully claimed the land, to lease it back to the Commonwealth as a national park. In this piece of legislation:
New subsection 10(4) provides that, for the purposes of section 10, any estate or interest in the Kakadu Land that is held by the Director is to be taken to be an estate or interest held by the Crown in right of the Commonwealth.
The Director is the titleholder of four of the Kakadu Land parcels.
We need to appreciate what that means, because it's inevitable that, if you talk to most people around this country and if you'd listen to the threats, the hyperbole, the vividly wrong attacks that were made against the land rights act by people over time and the very emotional, hysterical campaign waged by Brian Burke about national land rights, you would understand that this land has been leased back to the Commonwealth as a national park for the benefit and enjoyment of all Australians and international visitors. It wasn't taken away. They didn't nick it off. They didn't sell it. They didn't try to get rid of it. They leased it back to the Commonwealth. But now we're coming to a different period in the history of this region, and we need to appreciate what that means. It's time that the grants are being made now. Kakadu will be almost solely Aboriginal land under the land rights act, leased back as a national park as I've described. But we have the imminent closure of the Ranger mine and the issue around the Jabiru township and what should happen. And that's really quite important because now the Aboriginal traditional owners of that country want to do things to make sure that their interests in the long term are properly protected.
The Ranger mine has been operating in a small part of Kakadu for almost 40 years. In this time, the traditional owners, represented by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, the Mirarr and the traditional owners in the south have achieved a robust regional governance capacity. In the case of Jabiru, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation has led the design and promotion of the Jabiru vision for the future once the mine closes and the mining company has to relieve itself of its obligations. And recently we saw an announcement by Labor that a Labor government will invest $220 million in infrastructure and community development projects to dramatically improve Kakadu National Park as a tourist destination and secure the future of the township of Jabiru. This included, importantly, $100 million to upgrade four key access roads in Kakadu National Park itself to allow for as near as we can to all-around access. It also provided $44 million for environmental and national park infrastructure, $25 million for a new Kakadu visitor centre, $2.5 million to improve mobile connectivity in the park, $2.5 million for a new tourism master plan, $45 million to undertake urgent asbestos remediation in Jabiru township and $1 million for a new road strategy to be developed to improve safety on Kakadu's remote roads. These initiatives are really timely. I note that the government has put up proposals that are not quite of that magnitude but of similar type.
It's about time we understood that the Mirarr and the other traditional owners within the region are in a space now where they can take more control. It is perhaps timely—when we are thinking about the future of the national park, the role of the Director of National Parks, the national park itself and the joint management structure that's been put in place since inauguration of the park in the 1970s—that we look at the potential to review that joint management structure to potentially give Aboriginal people more control over their country. They have demonstrated time and time again their desire to work cooperatively and in partnership with the broader Australian community and the Australian government, but they want to make sure that their interests are clearly protected. Their cultural and spiritual obligations are immense. But they are the people with the deepest knowledge about that country, make no doubt about it. If that's the case, what we need to do is develop those relationships further so that they can maximise the economic benefits that can be derived from interest in the park as a World Heritage listed place for both its culture and its environmental values. Kakadu is a unique place.
I'm very pleased that we are finally dealing with this legislation, as critical as I am of the fact that it has taken us 12 months to do it. It is important. Aboriginal people across the Northern Territory value the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. I spoke before about the fact that we should be doing the Ammaroo grant today as well, but the Anthony Lagoon, Urapunga and the Kakadu National Park owners will be grateful to the parliament for progressing the legislation.
I just want to reinforce the fact, and underline it yet again, that this piece of legislation is extremely important. The Aboriginal Land Rights Act is what I'm referring to here. It's a very strong piece of legislation. Aboriginal people are not wont to change this legislation, I can tell you. Any government, any political party or any external interest group that believes it will have the capacity to influence people to change this legislation should think again. It has proven test of time. It has provided a really, really tremendous base upon which Aboriginal people can build their lives in the Northern Territory in a way in which they feel safe, culturally and spiritually. It provides them with the opportunity for further economic development and for the social development of their communities.
I might point out that the Mirarr need to be congratulated on the work that they have been doing. They funded their own boarding college in Jabiru. They are doing enormous work around the region to enhance the opportunities of young Aboriginal people for training, education and employment and are involved in making sure that their interests are being properly advanced.
I commend the bill to the House, although I would ask people who are speaking to this legislation to address the issues involved in our amendment, which make it very clear that we're not happy that this has taken so long. Aboriginal people should be treated with a great deal more respect. We introduced the bill 12 months ago. Why are we dealing with it today? It's not contentious; it was agreed, and yet it has taken us 12 months to do it.
The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Lingiari has moved as an amendment that all words after 'that' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. If it suits the House, I will state the question in the form that the amendment be agreed to. The question now is that the amendment be agreed to.
I rise to support this bill, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018. In my role as the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia, I am acutely aware of the challenges Indigenous Australian face, particularly with regard to home ownership. This bill demonstrates the government's commitment to recognising traditional Aboriginal ownership of land and to finalising land claims in the Northern Territory which have remained unresolved for decades. It delivers on the government's election commitment to work with Indigenous landowners to ensure their land rights deliver the economic opportunities that should come from owning your own land. This bill also gives practical effect to our commitment to working in partnership with Indigenous Australians.
The government is committed to the recognition of Indigenous land through statutory land rights and native title, and we are working with traditional owners and land councils to make sure these claims are resolved as soon as possible. This bill adds areas in Kakadu, Urapunga and Anthony Lagoon to schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 so the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. In the Kakadu region, the bill also provides for the leaseback of the Kakadu land to the Director of National Parks. This covers an area of around 973,300 hectares. The land claims were lodged between 1984 and 1997. While they remain unresolved there are statutory limitations on dealing with the land. This has constrained potential developments in one of Australia's iconic tourism destinations and added a layer of complexity to the joint management arrangements in place between traditional Aboriginal owners and the director.
The bill also adds areas in the town of Urapunga that are subject to the Township of Urapunga Indigenous land use agreement, Urapunga land, to schedule 1 of the Land Rights Act so that the Urapunga land can be granted as Aboriginal land. This covers around 73 hectares in area and is adjacent to existing Aboriginal land granted under the Land Rights Act. Scheduling this land supports the implementation of a registered native title Indigenous land use agreement entered into by the Northern Territory and the native title parties. It continues to deliver on the government's commitment to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to support the resolution of land claims and provide opportunities for Indigenous Australians to harness the opportunities that come with owning their own land.
The bill also adds an area in the Barkly region, Anthony Lagoon land, to schedule 1 of the Land Rights Act so that the Anthony Lagoon land can be granted as Aboriginal land. This is approximately 603 hectares in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory. The parties in this case have agreed on a land swap arrangement to finalise the claim. This supports improved access to the Tablelands Highway and proximity to relevant sacred sites.
The coalition government is committed to working with Indigenous landowners to ensure that their land rights deliver the economic opportunities that should come with owning your own land, and we are committed to working in partnership with Indigenous Australians. This bill is yet another example of this. We are working directly with traditional owners and land councils to make sure outstanding land claims are resolved as soon as possible.
Native title is an agreement that we as a nation recognise traditional owners of land and water, a recognition of pre-existing rights that for so long was denied to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Forty-six per cent of all land in Australia is now Indigenous land, including 12 per cent as exclusive native title. Excitingly, there are now more native title determinations than applications. But the fight to achieve native title does not end the challenge. For too long, traditional owners in various corners of the country have had their aspirations for development blocked, plans for employment and economic opportunities stifled by outside interests and traditional owners have not been able to make the decisions that they want for their land. Previous governments didn't provide traditional owners and landholders with the support needed, and non-Indigenous organisations and advocates flew in and acted in their best interests. The coalition government won't stand for that kind of approach. The government is committed to working with native title holders so that they can make decisions about their own land.
The coalition government is committed to building the long-term capacity of native title holders and prescribed bodies corporate, or PBCs as they are known, so that native title can deliver benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including economic independence. We work with local communities and representative bodies to create opportunity to give people choice about how they use their land, supporting economic development and employment across Australia. We recognise that native title holders are increasingly where the focus must be and that is why we are providing for the first time funding to the native title holders, to help them manage their land and participate in development.
The coalition government is investing over $20 million through the prescribed body corporates' capacity building fund, ensuring native title holders have a seat at the table and can pursue the economic development opportunities that they actually want to. This funding is also being used to develop a broader support work that will focus on training and support, improved access to information and expertise, and regional forums that allow engagement between governments and the PBCs.
In my electorate, at Hope Vale, the government is investing $110,000 in the Hope Vale Congress Aboriginal Corporation so landholders can have the expertise and support to negotiate with big mining companies and to make informed decisions about the economic opportunities that can come from their land. Across the state of Queensland, the coalition government is supporting prescribed bodies corporate or PBCs. In the Mt Isa region, for example, the government is investing over $685,000 to build the governance of board members to support traditional decision making and to help traditional owners take advantage of emerging opportunities from development of a new shale gas industry, supporting traditional owners to access the support and expertise they need to have the driving seat at the decision-making table, so that they can negotiate the best outcome for their communities and for their land. On Fraser Island, this government is investing $288,000 in the Batchelor Aboriginal Corporation, enabling native title holders to pursue economic development and take advantage of tourism opportunities, ensuring tourism investment goes directly to those affected communities.
This funding supports the PBC to develop a system of active statutory fee-charging powers, providing a source of income and providing the opportunity for sustainability. This is on top of the $92 million that the government is providing this year to support native title representative bodies so service providers can progress native title claims. The coalition is committed to improving the benefits traditional owners should be able to leverage from owning their own land and we have to wake up land rights. The coalition government is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to support local decision-making process, ensuring local communities have the resources and the authority to support what they actually want.
The areas in the Kakadu region that are included in this bill comprise about 50 per cent of the total area of Kakadu National Park, approximately 973,300 hectares. The balance of the park, other than that of the Jabiru township, is already Aboriginal land under the Land Rights Act, subject to leaseback arrangements with the director and the formal joint management with traditional owners. This has been a very successful model for many, many years. The parties of the land claims have agreed to settle the claim on the basis that Kakadu land being scheduled for grant is Aboriginal land under the Land Rights Act on the condition of an immediate lease back of Kakadu land to the director. In January this year, the coalition government announced the significant $216 million investment to update Kakadu National Park and support Jabiru's transition to a tourism based economy. This announcement follows negotiations between the Australian government, the Northern Territory government, the Mirrar traditional owners and Energy Resources of Australia.
Kakadu is one of Australia's most important environmental and heritage assets, one of our biggest tourism icons and the home to 60,000 years of living Indigenous culture. Through this investment, we want to make sure that Kakadu and Jabiru and all the residents and jobs they support are set for the future. The government is developing a detailed plan for our investment which will be spread over the next 10 years, consistent with our long-term commitment for the future of Jabiru and Kakadu.
Creating economic and business opportunities for Indigenous Australians is the key to empowering communities to take charge of their own affairs and close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. My role as the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia has given me an insight into some of the challenges these communities face on a daily basis. However, one thing I've found time and time again is that, when people work together, great things can certainly be achieved. I commend this bill to the House.
I rise to speak on Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Land Scheduling) Bill 2018. This bill amends the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. It adds 3,105 hectares of land within Ammaroo Station to part 4 of schedule 1 of the act, allowing that land to be granted as Aboriginal land.
The 1976 act sets out a scheme for claiming and granting control and management of Aboriginal land by traditional Aboriginal owners in the Northern Territory. It provided two ways for land to be granted to traditional Aboriginal owners. The first way involved applying to the Aboriginal Land Commissioner seeking recognition of a group's traditional attachment to unalienated crown land. However, that avenue closed for new applications way back in 1997. The other method available is for parliament to add a description of the land to be granted to part 4 of schedule 1 of the act. The minister then establishes, by a notice published in the gazette, an Aboriginal Land Trust to hold the land and recommends that the Governor-General grant the land to the trust. This mechanism facilitates negotiated outcomes, obviously, and is not limited to unalienated crown land, but it requires parliamentary action, which is a long process.
It is this second method that the bill before the House facilitates. It will add about 3,000 hectares near Ammaroo Station, which is about 250 kilometre north-east of Alice Springs. This cumbersome method of giving effect to Indigenous Land Use Agreements, or ILUAs, as they're called, is the subject of this bill. The Urapunga ILUA is an excellent example of the delays that this method, the only method still available under the original legislation, forces on traditional owners in the Northern Territory. The Urapunga ILUA was negotiated and agreed to by the parties in 2005. We've had about 27 prime ministers since then.
Legislation to add the land to schedule 1 of the act was introduced to parliament nearly 12 months ago. The Senate passed the amendments as the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017. If this bill does not pass this House in the next few days, before the parliament is prorogued, there would still be further delays for the traditional owners. So the current scheme requires that parliament amend the primary text of the act by adding land to a schedule in order to grant land to traditional owners. Remember, the whole reason for the act is because the traditional owners have a strong and ongoing connection with that part of the world that they've probably called their own for 60,000 years, or 3,000 generations or so.
This cumbersome process is a legacy of the Fraser government's decision to restrict the application of the act to unalienated crown lands and lands explicitly listed in the schedules. The Fraser government passed this act after the dismissal of the Whitlam government and the bill that the Whitlam government had introduced had lapsed. It has been suggested that this was done to protect existing land interests in the Northern Territory, particularly pastoral leaseholders, from any future claims. The Whitlam bill would have actually allowed the minister to create land trusts for land not explicitly included in the schedules. But that's not what was passed in the parliament, and we're left with this unwieldy scheme to grant land to traditional owners.
I remember when the Native Title Act was passed in 1993. I was studying law at the time, and it was of particular interest to many Queenslanders and to me as a law student. I remember the hysteria from some ill-informed quarters of the media—much of it in Queensland, I would say, but it was spread across the nation. It is fair to say that Paul Keating's Native Title Act was not universally welcome. However, it was passed by the Keating government in 1993 in response to the Mabo decision.
The previous year, Prime Minister Paul Keating had given that historic Redfern address, setting out some of the reasons why we needed to respond appropriately. Despite the alarmist rhetoric and the opposition from many political parties, the Keating government persisted. They consulted with state and territory governments, industry groups and Indigenous organisations. And can I say that the Queensland government was not particularly receptive. Remember, the Mabo legislation came from National Party and Labor governments opposing the proposal.
The draft legislation was introduced to parliament in 1993 and I think it passed just before that Christmas. There was a strong opposition to passing the Native Title Bill. The Liberal leader at the time, John Hewson, tried to block the bill. He called it a 'day of shame'. It's not that long ago, but he called it a day of shame. John Hewson said:
The Mabo legislation that is being rammed through the Parliament by the Keating Government will be proved to be a disaster for Australia.
… … …
The Opposition will make the Government's unjust, divisive and damaging Mabo legislation a major issue right up until the next election.
And in another media article he said, 'It is a raw deal that will disadvantage the great majority of Australians.' In fact, I'm holding up a clipping from the Northern Territory News, not a paper I'm overly familiar with, but they do some great Twitter work! The headline is, 'Politics of fear.' That's from 10 November 1993. That editorial really sums up the turmoil that the native title debate was causing in coalition ranks. I will just quote a couple of paragraphs:
The coalition's leadership jitters almost certainly reflect national doubts and confusion about the proposed native title legislation.
The issue is dividing the two quite opposite philosophies and political camps in the Coalition—the radical conservatives and the traditional liberals.
That editorial concludes with the following observation about the politics of the early nineties in Australia:
The catalyst now is Mabo, but in its absence, it would have been something else - economic policy, labour reform, foreign affairs, immigration or any of a number of juicy issues just waiting to be picked up.
But Mabo it is, because the issue is visible, controversial and potentially explosive.
Of course it will be argued that the Coalition should adopt a statesman-like position to native title.
Nice but unrealistic. After all, the Coalition would say, there was not much statesmanship on Labor's part about tax reform during the last election. Fear works both ways. That's politics.
There were reports at the time saying that Liberals were circulating a map of Australia showing almost half the nation claimed by native title. A fear campaign was everywhere.
On the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Native Title Act, the former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, conceded that his fears that suburban backyards could be put at risk were completely unfounded. He is reported as saying in 2002:
I think that like many others, I was trying to deal with something that was new, that was undefined.
Paul Keating, to his great credit, was very brave. He didn't listen to the hysteria and he believed that the Australian people wouldn't listen either, which was a brave call. The passage of the Native Title Act may be one of Labor's greatest legacies. I am proud to belong to a political party that is brave. Sometimes, in a marginal seat, I think we're too brave, but I'm proud to be a part of that party, a party that will choose the right path even in the face of intense scaremongering. The Labor Party is a party that cares for all Australians, a party that has a good, solid moral core.
I wish I could say that things have changed so much since 1993 but, sadly, that hysterical editorial could have been written last week. It could have been written today. The Prime Minister and his senior ministers were, just last week in this parliament, peddling fear and division over a bill that was passed by our democratically elected parliament to give the sickest people in our care the medical treatment that they need. Let's remember, that's what we said: we'll give the sickest people in our care medical treatment. And yet we see this great big fear campaign—the fear machine. It's cheap politics and, as the member for Lilley said in his wonderful valedictory speech today, the Australian public deserves better. It didn't do John Hewson any good way back in 1993 and I hope it won't do the current Prime Minister any good when it comes to the 2019 election. The Australian people have big hearts—not the pea hearts that we've seen standing opposite us at the dispatch box over the last couple of question times.
A final note on the current bill before the House: since the Native Title Act was passed, parliamentary action to grant land by amending schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 has become much more common, as mentioned by earlier speakers. Native title holders in the Northern Territory have agreed to surrender native title over land in exchange for the greater security of tenure provided by land rights title under the act. Maybe it's time to make it easier for traditional owners to have their settled land claims progressed in a timely fashion. As I said, the current piece of legislation started back in the early noughties.
Having to negotiate the passage of a bill through parliament each time an ILUA has been negotiated is inefficient. It is not fair to the traditional owners, and it's a wasteful use of parliamentary resources. It's time we fixed this, and the government should accept the amendment proposed by Labor, by the member for Lingiari, and seconded by me, allowing traditional owners to have their land claims progressed in a timely fashion. Aboriginal matters will be dealt with for them and by them. Surely it is time.
This bill, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018, is essentially about the Northern Territory. It says so in the title, of course. But it has lessons for all of us. It demonstrates cooperation and common purpose, and I think it's quite a stride in our relationship with Indigenous Australia that we'd get to a more sensible position where all parties would give a bit of ground, make a compromise and come up with a good result so that everybody's a winner. So I congratulate all those who have negotiated through this process, and I hope that the outcomes will be good for all of those who have done so and, of course, have supported the bill.
It's worth noting, though, from my point of view, because it gives me an opportunity to touch on a few other things which I think are important when it comes to land ownership, that Grey covers 92.4 per cent of South Australia, an area of 908,000 square kilometres. It also includes all of the remote Indigenous communities—but not all of the Indigenous communities, I might add; there are a few that live on Indigenous lands outside of Grey. But it includes all of the remote Indigenous communities at least, and it includes the APY lands. The APY lands cover 102,000 square kilometres, or around about 10 per cent of the state of South Australia. Interestingly, those lands are held in freehold title, but by the community rather than by individuals, and they can do whatever they like with their land and make whatever economic decisions they want to on that particular land.
It's probably 50 years since they were granted that freehold title from the then Tonkin Liberal government in South Australia. I must say, though, that it has not led to the economic outcomes that many at the time thought it would. I often question myself on why this is and why, in fact, it has not run closer to its productive capacity. I think, maybe, what I have to say in the rest of this address may come to those points, but I think it's more to do with community ownership than native title. But, like elsewhere, with the APY Lands it is very important that Aboriginal owners of land are able to utilise their assets properly, and I think Noel Pearson has had much to say on this issue in Queensland, where he believes that the native title owners, the owners of the land, should be able to get and develop the land in the way that they see fit so they can benefit from it.
As we strive for reconciliation, it's important, too, that the Indigenous corporations that own much of Australia properly manage their assets. The Indigenous Land Corporation and Indigenous Business Australia have accumulated millions of acres and millions of dollars worth of assets, and they are the tools to success. But we need those corporations to insist that their assets are operated at least at industry average and aim for industry best. Sadly, I must say, in many of cases, these assets are not, and I think both IBA and ILC need to really up the ante on those people who are occupying those lands, leasing those lands and using those infrastructure items, to make sure that they are delivering what they should deliver. Lowering the bar of expectation when it comes to Indigenous Australia is an insult. We all need to insist on industry best practice.
In my opinion, the biggest unresolved issue, when it comes to land ownership for Indigenous people on Indigenous lands, is home ownership. As I said, it's not so much native title; it's more about the community title and the fact that the community title precludes individual ownership of houses.
For most of us, a home is the biggest single purchase of our lives, it's the biggest financial commitment of our lives, it's the biggest financial motivator of our lives and, importantly, it's the biggest source of collateral in our lives. So an owner of a house—most people in this chamber are—can borrow money against that asset and launch off into business prospects, launch off into bettering their lot. That can't happen on remote Indigenous lands under community title. You can't borrow money from the bank. You can't buy a block of land and borrow money or earn money, build a house and pay off the house. It just can't be done.
In April last year Noel Pearson wrote: 'Housing in Aboriginal communities is the central problem of passive welfare.' To explain that—these are my words—it is because that land ownership model is almost exclusively occupied by public rental housing. Noel Pearson is right. This is what is holding back so much of Indigenous Australia. With but a few exceptions, remote Aboriginal housing is constructed by outsiders and the designated tenants have no role in their construction. Despite houses being built to an ever higher standard, they still have a much shorter useful life than houses in the mainstream, in the outside world. And Noel Pearson says in the same article:
Most people think that over-crowding is the main issue. For me the urgent problem of over-crowding (which certainly does depreciate the housing stock) is still second to a more important problem: how do we get skin in the game on the part of the people who live in these houses?
Tenancy, no matter how well managed by a landlord, is a form of skin in the game, but it is limited. You just don’t get the same pride, the same sense of responsibility and, yes, financial self-interest that ownership gives.
Later on in the article Pearson writes:
Homeowners know that if they abuse their houses, they will have to pay for the maintenance. Homeowners know that if they plant trees and maintain their gardens, it is theirs. They know that the home which they look after with pride is the home they are likely to leave to their children.
He is right. He is absolutely right. For Indigenous communities with common ownership, it is unfortunately an impossible dream. So while this bill today is about sensible compromise, it's about the Northern Territory, about the seeding of land rights over a certain area for compensation in another. It is still not happening in so much of the Indigenous community where we need to come to a sensible solution with housing.
Not long ago, I visited the house of a young Aboriginal leader, in one of my communities, a homeland community. In fact, he did own the house in this particular case. He said, 'My grandfather built it and it's consequently not owned by South Australian Housing Trust.' It is owned by him. He's a descendent of his grandfather and it's owned by him and he takes great pride in it. But it is the only house on that homeland that is owned by an individual. I can't think of another one anywhere else so it's bit of a one-off. But you can see what a difference it makes. It's important in his life. It's important to him that his grandfather built the house. So I just fear that the current model that we have right across is holding people and communities back.
In fact, the only way an Indigenous person from a remote community can ever hope to own their house is to move out of it, move out of their community and go to a mainstream community where they can buy a house, where they can buy a block of land, where they can borrow money, where they can reinvest in their assets, where they can use those assets to lever off other things in their life. But if they want to stay in their home communities, they can't. It's a separate way of dealing with them in Australia, and I don't think it's right.
Sometimes I get asked by people, 'Why doesn't government fix it?' In this particular case, governments could fix it but only if it were at the insistence of those who own the land. The people who have the community title own the keys to the land. They need to make these decisions. If they want it fixed, we can fix it, but they hold the veto and they need to bring their communities together and come up with that conclusion and come up with a model. I'm not prescriptive about the model. Certainly you don't want a model where these houses can then be sold to any outsider in Australia; that would be a bad outcome. So it's something that they are going to have to come up with and then put to governments and say, 'How about you back us in on this?'
When I speak to community elders about this, they are supportive of the concept but they don't seem to show much interest in actually making it happen. As a member of parliament I can't make it happen for them. I don't want to be put into a position where I'm trying to force them to a place they don't want to go. I hope they can look at it, listen to what Noel Pearson has to say and realise this is a way of enabling their communities, of making them stronger and making them more like mainstream communities, if you like.
So in the way that relates to the bill, it's common sense. That's what it is. I think anyone that looks at this issue would think that outcome is common sense. The outcome of this bill today is common sense. It's common sense over a whole lot of different emotions. They've come to a sensible outcome. I'd like to see that happening with remote housing. We can move that part of Australia into the 21st century.
I rise to support the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018 and the second reading amendment moved by the member for Lingiari, whose speech I listened to. It was very clear to me that the member for Lingiari has a very deep understanding of the importance of this piece of legislation and, importantly, an incredibly deep understanding of the concept of land when it comes to First Nations people which, of course, is a very important thing to understand, as it underpins the very nature of this piece of legislation.
The concept of landownership to First Nations peoples is very different to the concept of ownership in the broader Australian community. When I am speaking to young people in schools, I often explain to them that the ownership of land is different. The way that I describe it is that the land is your mother and you wouldn't hurt your mother, would you? You wouldn't throw rubbish at her, you wouldn't hurt her or make her sad or upset. Of course, little kids go, 'Well, of course we wouldn't!' That's very much the way in which I try and impart the importance of land, our mother, who gives birth to you, and it's important to understand this when we're talking about this piece of legislation.
The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 sets out a scheme for the claiming, granting, control and management of Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. The schedules in this bill set out what pieces of land we're actually talking about: Kakadu, Urapunga, Anthony Lagoon and others that I'm sure the member for Lingiari has referred to. It's important that we understand that there is an enormous amount of legislation that has been introduced in this House, and much of it will not be dealt with in the course of the life of the present government before we move to caretaker and election mode. But this, as the member for Lingiari has pointed out, I know is one piece of legislation that we do have to deal with because it involves the handing back of particularly significant pieces of land to Aboriginal communities.
I note from my reading of the bill a couple of days ago in relation to Kakadu—I'm not quite sure if it refers to the other pieces of land—that it's a lease back arrangement so that everyone can enjoy that remarkable piece of Australia. This joint ownership, for want of a better term, is, of course, the model that's used at Uluru and in a number of other places as well, as with one of the big national parks in the very west of the state of New South Wales. It's really important because it means that whilst land is transferred to First Nations communities, it is recognised that in some instances joint ownership can be established.
This bill provides mechanisms for granting land to traditional owners and, as I said, this bill adds areas subject to traditional land claims in Kakadu, Urapunga and Anthony Lagoon. This bill strengthens the recognition of traditional lands, and I have spoken about the importance of lands and what it means in terms of Aboriginal culture. I think the other thing that's really important is that the shape and the concept and the laws in those lands come from Aboriginal spirituality—what people might refer to as the Dreaming—and that makes these laws and these concepts of land incredibly ancient, more ancient than anywhere else on this blue planet. And for me that's a really important point that brings Australia together. I say to people that this is not just my culture; this is not just for the purview of Aboriginal people. This is the heritage and the inheritance of all of us that share Australia as home, and I think that's really important.
In the significance of land in acknowledging country, we acknowledge the truth of this land as well: that this was and always will be Aboriginal land. And there is nothing to fear in the broader Australian community from that very statement of fact. When you think of human occupation in Australia, which goes back—well, we've dated it to 60,000 years, and we know that it's much older than that, and that will come out over time. What an incredible inheritance for all of us. What a wonderful, wonderful thing that we in this nation can say is part of our background and part of our traditions. I think it's a great gift to all of us in this country.
For 60,000 years, First Nations People lived harmoniously with the land and the sea. I will never forget as a young Aboriginal woman going out to Brewarrina. I'd never seen the fish traps at Brewarrina on the—Barwon? I think the Barwon is the river that runs through Brewarrina—it's probably not running very much at the moment. And it just bowled me over because it said—and I'd never really thought it very much before—that these are man-made structures that are tens of thousands of years old that still work today in terms of trapping the fish in that part of the world. And they are such a marvel to see and still intact.
This land, of course, is the source of life, culture and spirit. The Bringing them home report, which I just spoke about in the Federation Chamber, was such an important report for all of us in this country. For me the Bringing them home report was the report into the stolen generations, but it actually drew a line in the sand where no-one in this country could say anymore, 'I didn't know the history.' It was a remarkable point in terms of doing that, but it also gave us the recommendations that led, of course, to the apology and all that flowed from that. But the Bringing them home report did something else: it talked about the connection between land, family, identity and biology, and there were no other reports that had done that previously. We had previous to the Bringing them home report, of course, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which was also groundbreaking, because that for the first time looked at the circumstances and life experiences of those deaths that were examined in that report.
This connection of family, identity, biology and land is vital, and it is because of this link that the full Federal Court concluded that the only persons entitled to claim native title are those who can show biological descent from the Indigenous peoples entitled to enjoy the land under the law and customs of their own clan or group.
With the land came unique and secret traditions known only by members of the traditional community, practised for generations. It is really difficult to articulate the significance and importance land represents to First Nations peoples and the way in which the land determines how we act, how we treat each other, how we treat other people and, in fact, how the land itself was formed. It is really important to understand that. I've often spoken to, again, small children about—you have the creation stories within the Bible—the Dreaming stories, which are also creation stories and just as important, just as significant. You can just see the penny drop when you explain it in that way.
I'm not going to mention everything in the bill—I know the member for Lingiari and other members have spoken about it—but I will talk about Kakadu. This bill will add areas subject to land claims in Kakadu. I know that's incredibly important. The traditional owners of Kakadu are the Bininj people and the—how do you say that, member for Lingiari?
the Mirarr people. There are a number of clan groups within the Kakadu area. This is a complex system of kinship and, of course, it is also where there is a large gathering every year of many peoples from across this country. It determines this kinship system of how people relate to each other and how they relate to the land. It also goes to issues of the totem system, and that refines your personal responsibilities as a First Nations person to parts of the land and animals living on that land.
In 1981, Kakadu National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List. I'm not sure if many people have been there, but it is just a spectacular place. It is subject to eight other international agreements, which function to protect, through our international obligations, the diverse wildlife which exists in the 683,000 hectares of Kakadu.
The bill also adds areas in the town of Urapunga that are subject to the Township of Urapunga Indigenous Land Use Agreement. The Urapunga community is located in the Roper Bar region on traditional lands, of course. Anthony Lagoon is also specifically mentioned in the schedule of the bill. The bill adds areas subject to traditional land claims in Anthony Lagoon, the site of one of our largest cattle stations, located in the Barkly Tablelands, home of the Warumungu people. These lands are among some of the most culturally significant lands for First Nations people.
I do briefly want to speak on the second reading amendment moved by my colleague the member for Lingiari. It is indeed disappointing that this bill was passed 12 months ago and is only being considered before this parliament now. Despite the bipartisan support that has been given to this bill, the government has failed to pass it until today. Traditional owners deserve to have their claims settled in a timely fashion. Justice delayed is justice denied. In many ways, the government dragging its feet on this bill seems to sum up the government's attitude towards First Nations affairs and its agenda for First Nations affairs—half hearted, lethargic and underwhelming.
Labor is genuinely committed to a sincere and equal partnership with First Nation Australians. For too long First Nations people have been legislated to and not legislated with, which is why we are so supportive of establishing a constitutionally recognised voice to the parliament. This is a fundamental philosophical difference between us and the government. If we want to genuinely heal the injustices of the past, the answers will be found in listening to First Nations people.
In closing, I'll just reiterate the points that I have made. Labor will support this bill. We want to see these hand backs happen. We want to see the processes that will take place once the hand backs happen. And I reiterate once again: there is nothing to fear from this kind of legislation. It is inclusive, it's embracive and it is also doing the right thing by First Nations Australians.
I rise to speak on the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018. This bill sets out a scheme for the claim, grant, control and management of Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. It is extremely important legislation. This is a very historic act. As the member for Lingiari mentioned a little while ago, almost 50 per cent of the Northern Territory is Aboriginal land under this act. It is very important that the history be known, and no-one knows that history better than the member for Lingiari and the people who have been involved in the land rights campaign over decades, so I won't recount that but simply refer you to his speech.
The amendments in the bill we are considering today—and I do note that it's taken some time to get here and shouldn't have taken this long—do four things. I will just mention those before making some other comments about the bill's importance and what the amendments will mean for people in the Northern Territory. They add parcels of land within Kakadu National Park, the township of Urapunga and Anthony Lagoon station to schedule 1 of the act, enabling them to be granted as Aboriginal land. They make the Kakadu grants conditional upon the Aboriginal landowners leasing the land to the Director of National Parks so it continues to be part of Kakadu National Park. This will not affect the park's operations, as all areas of Kakadu National Park are already co-managed with traditional owners and the grants and associated leaseback are anticipated in the park's management plan. They resolve issues connected with the separate corporate identity of the Director of National Parks and the Crown. The director holds land interests in national parks separate from the Crown's interests. They also repeal some redundant references to Kakadu in other parts of the act. It is important to note that the amendments in the bill are supported by both the Northern Territory government and the Northern Land Council.
The bill is a further positive step in resolving longstanding land claims, which has been a bipartisan commitment of Labor and coalition governments. In the second reading speech to the bill, the government committed to finalising land claims in the Northern Territory which have remained unresolved for decades, and we support that commitment. This bill is clearly of significance to the future of Kakadu as a national park and for the traditional owners, the Mirrar people, and the other people who live there.
About 2,000 people lived in the Kakadu area before the arrival of non-Aboriginal people, and I recommend to people listening: if you want to see how people lived before non-Europeans arrived, when you go to Kakadu go up to a place called Burrungkuy, formerly known by Nourlangie Rock. I first went there in about 1986 and I recently took my family there, so it was a bit like completing the circle. My mum and dad took me there all those years ago—a short period really, relative to how long the Mirrar people have been there. To visit this incredible place, where there is a cave where people have, over generations and generations, prepared food, had festivals and performed rituals, is really an experience that every Australian should have. There are about 500 Aboriginal people living in about 18 outstations these days, and they're dotted throughout the park.
It goes without saying that Kakadu has huge cultural significance for the traditional owners, but I also wanted to say in my contribution that it has huge significance for people in my electorate. It has great environmental, economic and tourism importance for Darwin, for Palmerston and for the whole Northern Territory and for the nation as a whole. I was very pleased to be with the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten; the member for Lingiari; the NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and others when we were recently in Kakadu, with the Mirarr people, announcing $220 million in infrastructure and community development projects to dramatically improve Kakadu National Park as a tourist destination and to secure the future of the township of Jabiru.
I just want to again stress how important this commitment is not only to Kakadu and Jabiru but also to the Northern Territory and to our nation: $100 million of this commitment will upgrade key access roads, $44 million is for environmental and national park infrastructure upgrades, $25 million is for a new Kakadu visitor and World Heritage interpretive centre in Jabiru and $2.5 million to improve mobile connectivity in the park so that people can get their Instagram photos out and share those with people around the world, which will in turn drive further interest so that people from all over the world will come to the park.
In fact, if I may, I just would suggest to anyone listening to that who wants to have any idea about how beautiful this place is, if they haven't been, to go to my Instagram, which is @topendgoz. Flick down through about 20 or 30 photos or so, and what I've put in there is a short video that I took at Burrunggui, formerly Nourlangie Rock, of a small waterfall. Apparently these days 'calm' is something that people get into. You watch a little video of a waterfall, and it makes you calm. I have just put 45 seconds in there. If you can watch that and not be calmed then I will be very surprised. There's another photo on there that's another cracker, and it's out on Yellow Water. You can see prehistoric crocodiles. You can see the most incredible wildlife and bird life. To go on a cruise of Yellow Water is to see something really, really incredible. I recommend that people get out there and have a look.
I want to just thank everyone who has taken part in the forums that we've held on tourism in the Northern Territory and who pushed so hard for this commitment to the future of Kakadu and Jabiru. Even as recently as yesterday, I was receiving feedback from one of my constituents. Actually, he's a constituent of the member for Lingiari. Rob Wesley-Smith was giving me more and more feedback about how Kakadu can be improved. I say to Rob Wesley-Smith that a lot of your concerns will be met by our federal Labor commitment. That is being made not as some gammon, over-10-years commitment but—as the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, said—from our first budget. There's a big difference. It's an important difference. We need this commitment now.
Kakadu and the other locations mentioned in this schedule have been cared for by the Aboriginal custodians for tens of thousands of years. If you want to see spectacular scenery and a pristine environment that has immense cultural value to our nation and to our planet, then do yourself a favour: book a trip and get up there to Kakadu. I just want to, in closing, congratulate everyone who has worked on making these amendments come to fruition. It is a shame that it has taken this long. But now that it's done, it is a wholly good thing and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make the commitments to Kakadu a reality.
I would like to thank members for their contributions to this debate on the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2018. The bill amends legislation and repeals redundant legislation. The bill adds areas subject to four traditional land claims in the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory to schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 so the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. It also provides for the leaseback of the land to the Director of National Parks and for the repeal of the provisions of the land rights act made redundant by the bill.
The bill also adds land that was subject to a successful native title application in the Roper River region of the Northern Territory to schedule 1 of the land rights act so that the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. Scheduling of the land is consistent with the terms of the Township of Urapunga Indigenous Land Use Agreement executed by the native title parties and the Northern Territory government.
In addition, the bill adds land that is associated with the settlement of the Anthony Lagoon area land claim to schedule 1 of the land rights act so the land can be granted as Aboriginal land. Scheduling of the land is consistent with the terms of the Anthony Lagoon area land claim No. 74 deed of settlement executed by the parties associated with the land claim and the Northern Territory government.
The amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 will enable the finalisation of five longstanding Aboriginal land claims and a native title settlement in the Northern Territory. I thank you, Deputy Speaker.
The original question was this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Lingiari has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the amendment be agreed to.
Original question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.