The Gillard Government should leave it to Aboriginal people to determine if they want a new Land Council Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion said after Minister Jenny Macklin knocked back a proposed new Katherine Land Council.
I’m not arguing the merits of a new Katherine Land Council or of the Northern Land Council but it should be a decision for Aboriginal people,” Senator Scullion said.
“On my reading of Justice Olney’s report there were no impediments identified to the formation of a new Land Council.
“I also acknowledge the Northern Territory Land Councils’ valuable work in representing traditional owners but the Aboriginal Land Rights Act does make special provision for people to establish their own Land Councils if they want.
“And I acknowledge that the Minister has to make a decision to request the Australian Electoral Commission to hold a vote or not. She should have done so in this case rather than pre-judge the outcome.
“That is the problem with the Gillard Government – they just don’t listen to the Aboriginal people.
“I don’t think there would be any push for a new Land Council if the people were able to pursue land tenure and other economic reforms without encountering obstacles.
“The real issue behind all this is that people are fed up with governments and organisations standing in the way of economic development and in particular, land tenure reform on Aboriginal land.
“That is the issue the Minister has to address,” Senator Scullion said.
Media contact: Russel Guse – 0438 685645.
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Katherine Land Council release.pdf