Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006
The government will not be supporting (5) and (6). The government is not willing to remove from the act the provisions preventing compensation for the value of minerals being included in exploration agreements. Such compensation, as senators will know, is already provided through royalty equivalents paid to the Aboriginals Benefit Account.
Aboriginal people affected by mining receive 30 per cent of such royalty equivalents. The government have considered all views on this issue. We accept the point that a number of reviews have recommended the removal of restrictions. But that view is not shared by all stakeholders; all parties do not agree with that. Some seek the removal and others do not. The government have decided, on balance, to retain the restrictions. We cannot support (5) and (6).
While the mining industry agreed, I understand, to most of the package on exploration and mining reached between the Northern Territory government and the land councils, it did not agree with the removal of section 44A. As I said, on balance, the government has decided to retain the existing provisions. As a footnote to history, if I can put it that way, the provisions of section 44A which the opposition are seeking to remove were inserted in 1987 by a Labor government.