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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2039..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Kaine asked me whether it was open only to residents of the ACT. I do not think there are any people who have signed the agreement who are not residents of the ACT; but, Mr Speaker, if there were people of that kind it would not matter. This agreement is not an agreement for ACT resident members of the Ngunnawal community because the Ngunnawal community, the Ngunnawal nation if you like, long preceded the ACT. The fact that they are living across the border in New South Wales should not be a barrier to them taking out rights over their traditional lands because they are now lying within the ACT. I will make no distinction between people on the basis of where they are resident. If they are properly members of the Ngunnawal community, as I have defined it in these comments, they are entitled to the benefits of this agreement.

MR KAINE: I have a supplementary question. Since you say, Chief Minister, that those who are not already included in this agreement can be included, how has that information been conveyed to those who are not included in the agreement? In light of the general feeling amongst some, and I quote from the Canberra Times, that this agreement, rather than encouraging a spirit of reconciliation, has widened a rift which already was evident in the local Aboriginal community, and I am paraphrasing that, how was it determined who would be signatories to this agreement on the part of the Ngunnawal people?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the people who were signatories were essentially people who had brought a claim in the Native Title Tribunal for recognition of land rights in respect of the ACT. That is the basis on which those people were invited to come forward and be signatories to this agreement. Of course there are divisions in the Aboriginal community about this issue, and I regret that there has been any strengthening of feeling, any exacerbation of that division, by virtue of this step; but I believe that those divisions have been present for a very long time.

The government was determined that the question of reconciliation and justice with respect to the land claims of those people should not be held up until the magical day arrived when those divisions would disappear. It was the government's view that steps should be taken to advance this issue in practical terms at this point in time. The people who have taken that up are obviously pleased and supportive of that process. As I have said before, others who wish to take on board those rights will be perfectly entitled to do so at any stage in the future. We should not play on those divisions, Mr Speaker. We should not exploit them as a basis for declining to advance this issue in the ACT's case. I believe that that is an appropriate step, and I hope it has support from other members of this place.

Road signs

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Minister, your department's initiative to erect black posts with a white crucifix has raised questions from non-Christian groups within the community.

Mr Humphries: A white cross.

MR HARGREAVES: The minister probably knows what I mean when I talk about a white crucifix, much more so than the Chief Minister. I understand that a post is erected only with permission from the deceased person's family, and I applaud that. Whilst I applaud this road safety initiative, I am concerned that sections of the


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