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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2171 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: First of all, I think you said that I said that it was a non-inclusive agreement. I said that it was a non-exclusive agreement. I am not sure what Hansard has recorded, but I certainly said "non-exclusive".

It is possible to attack this agreement because it necessarily has some people who have accepted it and some people who have not accepted it at this point in time. Let me say about those people who have not accepted it that they are not out in the cold, as you suggest, because those people retain the right to pursue a claim or claims in the Native Title Tribunal, a claim or claims which can lead and perhaps will lead one day to their obtaining much greater rights in respect of land in the ACT than the ACT government has, to date, offered in this agreement. It does not leave them out in the cold at all; it leaves them with the potential, the possibility, of very substantial gain if their claim has substance.

The government has made its offer to those who have accepted it on the basis that it believes that there is, in fact, a better course of action to deal with this matter. Why do I say that it is better? It is for one simple reason: I believe that reconciliation should be based on discussion, negotiation and agreement between black and white in this country, not on the basis of saying, "I have brought my legal claim in the court and my lawyer is tougher than yours and will beat yours in an open round in court."

I would infinitely prefer for an agreement to be reached between the white community, the non-Aboriginal community, of the ACT and Aboriginal members of this community by virtue of sitting down around a table and working through our differences so that we can build on that as a basis for reconciliation in the future. That is the basis of the government's approach, Mr Speaker. I make no apologies about wanting to take an approach which is designed to provide an option, an offer, which is open to Aboriginal people to accept but also open to others to reject, if they wish, and to pursue the same objectives in another way. Nobody is out in the cold in this arrangement; it is about finding a solution to a problem which deserves a concerted effort by all concerned, governments included.

MR KAINE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Obviously, the Chief Minister does not regard it as a mean and tricky agreement. Chief Minister, consequent to the signing of the agreement and to an adverse reaction from some of the Ngunnawal people, you told the Canberra Times, as reported on 1 March, that you would be seeking meetings with these excluded groups of Aboriginal people later in the week. Have these meetings that you told the Canberra Times about actually taken place, with whom did you meet and what was the outcome of these meetings?

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not believe that I said that I would seek meetings later in the week. If the Canberra Times reported that, that was inaccurate. I have indicated to those people that I am quite prepared to talk to them about these issues.

Mr Kaine: The Canberra Times got it wrong.

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