New South Wales
In New South Wales, a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly, chaired by Maurie Keen, was appointed to inquire into land rights. On the basis of the 1979 'Keene Report' the Wran (ALP) government passed the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, transferring freehold title in reserves from the Aboriginal Lands Trust (set up in 1973) to local land councils. Recognising that very little of the State's land was, by then, 'reserve', the 1983 Act also created a land purchase fund, built up from 1984 to 1998 by siphoning off 7.5 per cent of New South Wales' general land tax. Crown lands can be claimed under the 1983 legislation, but under so many restrictions as to draw criticism from Kooris and members of the judiciary. Aboriginal ownership includes rights to minerals other than gold, silver, coal and petroleum; decisions about the extraction of these four minerals from Aboriginal land remain with the government.
Keywords: Aboriginal Land Rights Act, 1983, land rights, Maralinga Tjarutja Land RIghts Act, 1983, New South Wales, States' rights, 1973-1998
Author: Rowse, Tim and Graham, Trevor