At 3.11 pm on 2 April 1985 the Queensland Coast Islands Bill was presented to the Queensland Parliament. Deputy Premier Gunn then read the Bill for the first and second times. The second reading speech is notable not only for its brevity but also for the Queensland Government's erroneous assertion that the plaintiffs 'commenced an action in the High Court... to challenge the annexation to Queensland in 1879 of three of the Torres Strait islands.' In fact the challenge of the plaintiffs was not to the validity of the annexation itself but to the effect of the annexation, the plaintiffs arguing that native title to the islands survived such annexation.
The debate regarding the Bill lasted little more than an hour - a disappointing statistic given its draconian effects.
Nevertheless, the Bill was condemned by at least some of the Opposition members. For example, Mr Burns, the Labor member for Lytton, expressed his view that 'this legislation is really a cowardly act by a Government that is not prepared to face the independence and integrity of the High Court.'
The House divided along party lines, with the Bill passed by the conservative coalition of National and Liberal Party members by 48 votes to 31.
Mr DAVIS: I want to carry on from where the member for Port Curtis (Mr Pr) left off, because I was in the Chamber when the Minister for Northern Development and Aboriginal and Island Affairs (Mr Katter) denigrated the Opposition's... the then Liberal-National Party Government. The present high cost of petroleum in this country stems from decisions made by the Liberal-National Party Government. The decisions were made by National Party Ministers, not Liberal Party Ministers, and Opposition members stressed that at that time. Increased petrol prices stemmed from those decisions. At that time, Opposition members said that they would lead to the present high cost of petrol. Opposition members were denigrated then by a National Party member so National Party members should not now start crying poor about the present price of petrol. Government members know that if their party ever again office in Canberra which I very much doubt, it will retain that policy. All through the second-reading debate. Government members tried to score political points, but they should remember that it was a Liberal-National Party Government that implemented the present policy.
Clause 1. as read, agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 6, as read, agreed to.
Bill reported. without amendment.
Bill, on motion of Mr Gunn, by leave, read a third time.
Hon. W. A. M. GUNN (Somerset-Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer). by leave. without notice: I move- 'That leave be given to bring in a Bill to allay any doubts that may exist concerning certain islands forming part of Queensland.'
Motion agreed to.
Bill presented and on motion of Mr Gunn. read a first time.
Hon. W. A. M. GUNN (Somerset-Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (3.11 p.m.): I move-
'That the Bill be now read a second time.'
Letters patent issued by Queen Victoria on 10 October 1878 authorised the Governor of Queensland b~ proclamation to declare that the islands of the Torres Strait 'shall be annexed to and form part of our said Colony''. The 'said Colony' referred to ~va5 Queensland.
The letters patent went on to provide that the Governor was not authorised t~ issue the necessary proclamation to annex the islands until the Queensland legislature had passed a law providing that the islands. on a date to be specified in the proclamation, should become part of Queensland and subject to the laws in force therein'
The Queensland Coast Islands Act of 1879 was subsequently passed and received royal assent on 24 June 1879. In terms of the letters patent, the Governor then issued a proclamation on 18 July 1879 annexing the islands to Queensland as from 1 August 1879.
University of Queensland (Confirmation of Powers) Bill 2 April 1985 4741
This position was accepted until a small group of Murray Islanders commenced an action in the High Court Australia on 20 May 1982 against the State of Queensland and the Commonwealth of Australia to challenge the annexation to Queensland in 1879 of three of the Torres Strait islands. The islands are Murray, Dowar and Waier in the Western Group of Torres Strait islands.
Questions raised by the Islanders in their 25 page statement of claim concerned the intention behind the annexation.
The purpose of the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Bill 1985 is to make it clear and to declare that the intention of the 1879 legislation was-
(1) that the lands in question be vested in the Crown in right of Queensland;
(2) that the land was freed and discharged from any right, interest or claim that the occupants of the land may have claimed to have existed prior to annexation.
The passage of this Bill will, it is hoped, remove the necessity for limitless research work being undertaken in relation to the position of the relevant Torres Strait islands prior to annexation and will prevent interminable argument in the courts on matters of history.
I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate on motion of Mr Prest, adjourned
UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND (CONFIRMATION OF POWERS) BILL
Second Reading-Resumption of Debate
Debate resumed from 20 March (see p 4195) on Mr Powell's motion-
'That the Bill be now read a second time.'
Mr GOSS (Salisbury) (3.14 p.m.): The Opposition believes that this legislation raises important principles relative to the funding of universities and education generally. The general purpose of the legislation is to correct a defect that apparently existed in the legal framework that was to be erected. It is necessary to correct the defect so that there may be no doubt about the authority of the university to move in this direction.
This defect must be corrected, and it should not have arisen at this stage; it should have been corrected before this. The legislation has been introduced not only to assist universities but also to assist people such as Mr Metcalfe, and generous rewards will flow to him and his associates from these enterprises.
I personally support the measures and the general approach because they enable universities to undertake a couple of very important projects. They will generate more funds generally for research and other projects. However, the Government and the community must be very wary of the way in which education is funded and of the principles under which it operates.
The pursuit of excellence in universities and the pursuit of ideas and research should be completely free and should not be tied or in any way restrained or compromised by the sources of funds. That can happen readily when big business interests or special business interests have a controlling influence over the direction of research or other university activities
If this measure were simply an efficient means of generating funds from the private sector it would not be objectionable. A need exists for the generation of much greater amounts of money for university funding, particularly for technology and science, which are expensive fields of research. However, the independence of universities should be jealously guarded, as should their freedom to undertake research and to pursue those Particular aspects of academic interest that they choose to. They should not be in a position in which they are forced to pursue avenues that are dictated by the needs of
Second Reading-Resumption of Debate
Debate resumed from 2 April (see p 4741) on Mr Gunn's motion-
'That the Bill be now read a second time.'
Mr BURNS (Lytton) ( 12.53 p.m.): In his second-reading speech, the Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer really said that the Bill's contents related to Murray Islanders. He referred to- '... an action in the High Court on 20 May 1982 against the State of Queensland and the Commonwealth of Australia to challenge the annexation to Queensland in 1879 of three of the Torres Strait islands. The islands are Murray, Dowar and Waier in the Western Group of Torres Strait islands'
It appears that the Government feels that the best way to overcome the risk of those Islanders winning in the High Court is to avoid defending the legislation in the High Court by acting as it is now.
Until approximately five years ago, the Murray Islanders thought that they owned their own land. Until the Torres Strait Treaty, they believed that they had a system of ownership of their own plots. At that time they discovered that what they and a succession of Queensland Governments had accepted was not the rule.
Mr SCOTT: All Torres Strait Islanders thought the same thing. This Government had led them all along.
Mr BURNS: They all believed that they owned their own land; that the islands were theirs. They believed that they were part of Queensland and were being treated In the same way as other Queenslanders.
History shows that, before annexation, Murray Islanders had separate plots with their own gardens and houses. Boundaries were marked out. They are not nomadic, as Australian Aborigines are. They do not move from one camp to another. They had their own organised system of land control. The Murray Islanders had local court, both before and after British settlement. Prior to annexation, the head man made the decisions, and the local court dealt with land claims arising from arguments between one native and another about ownership of a particular block, whether it be a house block or a garden block. The people who inhabit the Murray Islands are gardeners and fishermen. Until now, successive Queensland Governments have not disturbed that local system.
At the time of preparing the Torres Strait Treaty, discussions centred around whether people of the Murray Islands should be part of Papua New Guinea, or Australia. The people were told that Papua New Guinea law recognised native title, and they replied that they had always owned their land. At that time, it was made clear to them that that was not the case. Whereas Australian Governments were telling the people of the Murray Islands that if they stayed as part of Australia. they would enjoy all of the benefits of benevolent Governments handing out social welfare payments-I suppose that is the best way to describe it-the Papua New Guinea Government was promising land rights.
In response to the promise of land rights, the people said that they had always owned their own land. However, it was again pointed out to them that was not the case, and at that stage the people began to talk about taking action against the Queensland Government. The people protested that no legislation had been enacted that would have had the result of abolishing title to the land that had been owned by the Murray Islanders since long before annexation, and also owned and controlled by those people since annexation.
The people of the Murray Islands do not claim that the islands are not part of the State of Queensland. The people want to be part of Queensland and part of the Queensland system. However they are saying that the rights that have continued after annexation, which had never been extinguished, should be maintained. They are saying that the same rights that continued to exist after 1879 and that were recognised up until 1979 ought to continue to be recognised; that for over 100 years, recognition has been maintained. The people now ask why rights and title to the land will be changed.
It should be remembered that the British always respected the principles upon which the people of the Murray Islands now rely. As the British extended the practice of colonisation around the world, in places such as Africa, the traditional ways of controlling land were built into the legal system of each new colony. Land rights did not cease to exist when annexation occurred, and rights to a plot of land that had been owned by a family before annexation, before letters patent had been issued by Queen Victoria on 10 October 1878 that authorised the Governor of Queensland, by proclamation. to declare the islands of the Torres Strait to be annexed to and form part of the said colony, were retained. Traditional land rights did not cease to exist, and they continued to exist after I August 1979. Successive Governments in Queensland, of all political colours, have accepted the obligation of maintaining those rights, and the people who inhabit the Murray Islands are asking why that now should be changed.
In 1982, the people issued a writ out of the High Court. The plaintiffs were a group of inhabitants of the Murray Islands in Torres Strait who sought to establish traditional land rights. For that purpose, the plaintiffs sought a series of declarations and injunctions, and compensation for any impairment of the claimed rights. I understand that legal representation comprised some of the nation's top legal counsel. Leading counsel for the plaintiffs was Mr Ron Castan, QC, of the Victorian Bar, whose instructing solicitors were Messrs McIntyre & Co. of Cairns. The Solicitor-General was briefed by the Commonwealth Government. The Queensland Government briefed Mr David Jackson, QC, who also appeared for the Queensland Government in Koorawatha's case.
The important part of the plaintiffs' case involved reopening important issues considered in the Gove land rights case, Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd, in 1971. That was a decision of the Northern Territory Supreme Court, and, although criticised by some sections of the community at the time, it was not taken to appeal. In that case, aboriginal groups claimed the existence of traditional land right, but were unsuccessful. Although the decision could have rested simply on the effect of the relevant legislation, at the request of all parties, Blackburn J made a lengthy analysis of the land rights position generally.
That was the situation as at May 1982, when the people of the Murray Islands decided to issue a High Court writ seeking a reconsideration of the land rights issue based on the determination of the Gove land rights case. The case was heard in October I 1982, and the Queensland Government asked for all the facts to be made known. The plaintiffs went away and assembled all the facts, and the research took approximately 12 months. The facts of the case constituted such a large document that the plaintiff arranged for it to be presented in a properly bound form. The file of documents contained official Queensland Government documents and historical documents that were obtained from libraries in places as far away as London. A complete book of Murray Island court records was also compiled.
Sitting suspended from I to 2.15 p.m.
Mr BURNS: Before the luncheon recess I was speaking about the problems of the Murray Islanders and the reason for the Government's introducing this Bill. I had just reached the stage where I was talking about the 1982 action taken in the High Court by the Murray Islanders against the Queensland Government.
The point I was trying to make is that the Torres Strait Islanders are different from the Australian Aborigines. The Aborigines are nomadic; the Islanders are gardeners. They farm their own small plots on the Murray Islands. They have always owned their own house and garden plots and had never worried too much about the debate in Australia over Aboriginal land rights and the land rights legislation generally, until the debate about the Torres Strait Treaty began.
At that time people from New Guinea said to them, 'If you came into New Guinea and if the Torres Strait Treaty boundary went round the Murray Islands you would have your land rights recognised.' But the Murray Islanders said, 'We always have had land rights. We own this land and always have owned it.' But they discovered that that was not so. Before and after annexation tho Murray Islanders had their own court system, in which they handled land appeals, they settled arguments between the island people about the ownership of land. The ownership of that land has been recognised by successive Governments of all political colours since 1878.
In 1982, the Murray Islanders found themselves being frustrated by the Queensland Government and having to go to court. The Government did everything that it could to frustrate them and in October 1982 they finally went to the High Court. When that occurred, the Queensland Government asked for all sorts of documentation. The Murray Islanders were forced to do 12 months' research.
They obtained historical documentation from libraries in London and all over Australia. They checked the records of the Queensland Government and produced a whole book of Murray Islands court records dating back to before 1879. They produced details to prove that, over a long period, the ownership of land on those Torres Strait islands had not been in question. They submitted the documentation required by the Queensland Government in bound form, but the Government did not answer. The Islanders met with Queensland Government representatives in October 1984 who said, 'OK, but you should put it in a different form. We want it indexed in a different way.'
The Murray Islanders had done everything requested of them, but the Queensland Government delayed even further. It said that it could not agree or disagree so, in November 1984, the parties appeared before Mr Justice Gibbs. Again the Queensland Government asked that all the material supplied be incorporated as part of the court documents, so the Murray Islanders did just that. The Queensland Government said that if that was done it would respond. I am told that three weeks ago the people representing the Murray Islanders were told that the Queensland Government could not respond.
So it seems to me that the purpose of this Bill is to frustrate the Murray Islanders proceeding with their case in the High Court. Like every other Australian citizen, they have a right to go to court to defend something in which they believe, something they have stood for all their lives. The Queensland Government has appeared before the court and given every indication of proceeding with the case, so this legislation is really a cowardly act by a Government that is not prepared to face the independence and integrity of the High Court.
This legislation attacks the integrity of the High Court and if the Government believes that it will prevent the plaintiffs-the Murray Islanders-from proceeding, it is wrong. This legislation will become the issue, not the point that the Murray Islanders have been litigating: 'We have lived here for centuries. During all that time the ownership of our own little garden plots and homes has never been denied, not even after Queen Victoria annexed it as part of Queensland.' They are not saying that they do not want to be part of Queensland. They are saying, 'We want to be part of Queensland, but we want to continue in the same way that we have over the years.' I cannot see that the land rights argument in Australia affects those people, because there has been no great white settlement on the Torres Strait islands. There has been no great movement of Australians into the area to develop all sorts of properties; if anything, it has been just the opposite.
Mr Scott: Only three islands-Thursday Island, Prince of Wales Island and Horn Island.
Mr BURNS: That is right.
These days, only 13 of the islands in the Torres Strait group are populated. If anything, the population has drifted away. It has centralised, and people have left many of the smaller islands. It is not as if there has been fighting-blacks versus whites-over who owns the land. Over a long period the land has been theirs and has been maintained by them under an orderly court system, and they have determined their own arguments over land.
Mr Veivers: Hundreds, of years.
Mr BURNS: Yes, hundreds of years. This legislation will become the issue in the future. The Murray Islander will not give up their determination to own their little blocks of land and to operate in the way in which they and their forefather have operated.
I was looking through some material in the Parliamentary Library and I saw a document dealing with the ownership of land in the Torres Strait islands. A postscript by Jerry Becket, in a document entitled 'Aborigines, law and anthropology', states -
'Early in 1981 the newly re-elected Government of Queensland announced its intention to repeal the Torres Strait Islanders Act. Realising the far-reaching implication of such a move, the Torres Strait Islanders Advisory Council, an official State body composed of the three representatives of tho Eastern, Western and Central Groups, waited upon the Premier and secured his agreement that no action would be taken until they had tested the feelings of Islanders, in the Strait. Consultations conducted during the month of August 1981, revealed 1047 in favour of inalienable freehold, 44 favouring freehold, 10 favouring perpetual leasehold, and I favouring leasehold. The Premier had meanwhile expressed a preference for 50 year leasehold against his Minister's preference for perpetual leasehold.
Early in 1982 Tho Queensland Premier (Mr 8jelke-Petersen) came forward' with a new proposal, that the Queensland Government should issue deeds of grant in trust for existing Aboriginal reserves. Although apparently acceptable to the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Baume, other opinion challenged his assertion that the title would, in fact, 'be for ever', The scheme also proved , unacceptable to the Torres Strait Islanders, according to a press report in May, which is worth quoting at length.
Residents of Thursday Island in Torres Strait had rejected the Queensland Government's new Aboriginal land legislation, the area's National Aboriginal Conference delegate Mr Billy (presumably Ben) Nona, said yesterday.
Mr Nona said lslanders wanted inalienable freehold title. About 30 Thursday Islanders discussed the new land policy with the State Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs, Mr Tomkins, and his senior adviser at the weekend.'
Today, the Government is dealing with this matter in a shonky way. It should have allowed the matter to be tested in the court. The Aborigines at Gove did not win their case, and I am not sure whether the Murray Islanders would have won this case. In common with other Australians, they should have the right to go to court to test their case. On what I have read since this Bill was presented to the Parliament, I think that it is a good case. Before and after annexation, Governments of all political colour have accepted the role that the Islanders have played in determining their own land issues. As there seems to be no push for anyone else to move in and take the islands from them, I cannot understand why the Government is taking these steps today. It seems to me to be a shonky way of dealing with the matter. It is a smart little trick by the Government to get out of its responsibilities. It is not allowing these Islanders to test the case in court, as any other citizen would be able to do.
Hon. W. D. LICKISS (Mount Coot-tha) (2.23 p.m.): I agree that there is some degree of uncertainty as to why the legislation should be introduced into this Chamber. The short title of the Bill is 'To allay any doubts that may exist concerning certain islands forming part of Queensland'. On that basis, the Liberal Party is prepared to support the legislation. When dealing with land, one thing that is necessary is to establish certainty. In spite of what the member for Lytton (Mr Burns) said, the Murray Islands are part of either Australia or Queensland; they are not an independent realm of their own within Australia.
Mr Scott: We are not claiming that.
Mr LICKISS: If the honourable member listens, I will try to explain it to him
It must be established with certainty not only how the land status in that area can be dealt with but also the type of government that is to administer that area.
Presumably, those islands are within Queensland. Some people may be uncertain about that, but I would have thought that the letters patent issued by Queen Victoria on 10 October 1879, followed by the Queensland Coast Islands Act of 1879, which the letters patent demanded be passed, and the subsequent proclamation of that Act by the then Governor confirmed that those islands were part of the colony of Queensland. Two reasons can be found for that.
Pursuant to the legislation and the letters patent, the Governor was authorised, by proclamation, to describe in the schedule those islands that were to be part of Queensland. That was done. It must be remembered that, when the proclamation was made, the islands of the Torres Strait included all the islands between Queensland and Papua New Guinea. In this modem day and age, the proximity of some of those islands to New Guinea could have caused problems relating to ownership and responsibility for administration of those islands. However, that situation having been catered for, it is without doubt that the Murray Islands and the other islands mentioned in the Bill are within Queensland.
Mr R. J. Gibbs: That is a profound statement.
Mr LICKISS: This is an area of doubt.
The honourable member for Lytton quite properly raised the question of the rights of the occupants to the land that they have occupied traditionally over the years. The form of tenure has been that of occupation, which has been established by the people using their own methods, and when a doubt has arisen about occupation, it has been dealt with by the court.
The question of title over part of Queensland or part of the Commonwealth, had it been a Commonwealth matter, concerns the laws pertaining to the realm controlling those islands, which in this case is the realm of the State of Queensland. Before definite tenure can be applied, the islands must be acknowledged as being part of a sovereign State so that the laws applying to the alienation of Crown land can be applied. That is part and parcel of the certainty that this legislation provides.
I have no doubt that the letters patent, the Queensland Coast Islands Act of 1879 and the subsequent proclamation placed the islands in the Torres Strait under the laws of Queensland. Lest anyone should feel that that is not so, I will read section I of the Queensland Coast Islands Act of 1879, which states- 'Governor to issue Proclamation. Schedule. From and after such day as His Excellency the Governor of Queensland shall by such proclamation under his hand, and the public seal of the Colony as is authorised by the said letters patent mention and appoint for that purpose the Islands described in the schedule hereto shall be annexed to and become part of the Colony of Queensland and shall be and become subject to the laws in force therein.'
Those laws deal with the alienation of land. Unless those laws apply to the people on those islands, they cannot obtain rights to the land. Those islands are pan of the sovereign State of Queensland and title to the land can only come under the laws of Queensland. I not think that the laws of adverse possession apply in that case.
Mr Scott: What about what existed prior to that Act?
Mr LICKISS: If the honourable gentlemen will follow what I am saying he may find that the legislation gives the solution to that problem.
The schedule to that Act is identical with the schedule in the proclamation. Any reading of that schedule shows that the islands in question come within the schedule and, therefore, would be part of the land so described. I will now quote for honourable members part of the preamble to the proclamation-'... do hereby notify and proclaim that from and after the first day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine, the Islands described in the Schedule hereto shall be annexed to and become part of the Colony of Queensland, and shall become subject to the laws in force therein.'
That the wording of the schedule to the proclamation is identical with the wording of the schedule to the Act is not a coincidence. Those schedules are provided to describe the lands included therein.
I think it is quite clear that, subsequent to the issue of the letters patent, the Torres Strait islands were, and always have been part and parcel of the Colony of Queensland, and after federation, remained as part of the State of Queensland. Therefore, I believe there is no doubt about the realm that controls those islands-that is, the Crown in the right of the State of Queensland. '
I now come to the burning question of the rights that can be given in relation to the occupation and ownership, as mentioned, of the lands in these three islands. I believe that the legislature of this State would be able to prescribe any title it so desires for any of the Iands in the State of Queensland, the Murray Islands being no different from the land west of Southport or the land north of Mackay. It is all part of the State of Queensland; it comes within the realm of the State of Queensland and, therefore, the laws of the State of Queensland. I cannot see any reason why the Government of the day would want to interfere with the right of the people on the islands if they are living happily, controlling their own destiny and looking after their own wants.
Mr Scott: That is a totally paternalistic attitude.
Mr LICKISS: It is no more totally paternalistic than saying that the Government of the day would want to take the honourable member's land in Cairns. Why would a Government suddenly want to take his land or, instead of giving title in fee simple, give him an occupational licence?
I say to the honourable member for Cook that this legislation does not take from or give to, these people any rights whatsoever. It establishes the present position clarifies it as a matter of certainty. The laws of Queensland have in the past provided, do now and will in the future provide what tenure and security of tenure might be given over the lands of these people. If it is to be a deed of grant in fee simple, that can be done. If it is to be a perpetual lease, that can be done. If it is a question of alienating the land in such a way that it be brought under the Real Property Act, that can be done. If that certainty of right of the realm is acknowledged, in dealing with land tenure there is nothing that cannot, or should not, be done.
The question now is the tenure that will be granted to these people. The way in which the land will be administered will now be matters for the laws of this State. That is far and beyond the provisions of the Bill now under discussion, which are to declare with certainty the correct position. The question of the title, the way the lands will be administered and who shall own them are matters for separate legislation, and are issues which will obviously revolve round the policy of the present Government.
Mr SCOTT (Cook) (2.35 p.m.): As the member for Brisbane Central interjected, honourable members, have just heard another example of a wishy-washy Liberal speech from the honourable member for Mount Coot-tha. It is incredible that someone who was so involved with the legal administration of this State not so many years ago should have such a narrow and blinkered vision of the whole matter to which the Bill relates.
The 8ill is important. It is special and specialist legislation. I believe that the matter is sub judice. I have heard that ruling made on many occasions in this Chamber. Members are not allowed to debate matters that are before a court. Not only are honourable members debating such legislation; the Queensland Government, in its very limited wisdom, has introduced legislation that must confound totally-
Mr McElligott: It changes the rules.
Mr SCOTT: Absolutely. The Government changes the rules as it goes along. But that is typical of the Government.
The only way to describe the position is to say that, as far as the Government is concerned, dog and goanna rules apply in Queensland. At present, the matter is sub judice. However, if the administration of the Parliament is not worrying about that, I will not worry about it The Opposition is in the process of telling Government members why it is vehemently opposed to the legislation.
I compliment the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Burns) on the approach that he adopted to the Bill. The Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer does not know very much about the Torres Strait area. He was not aware that the Murray, Dauar and Waier Islands are in the Eastern Group of Torres Strait islands. Although that is a minor point, that is not what the Deputy Premier said in his speech, and I will not be too picky about that.
The Deputy Premier referred to the purpose of the Bill. His speech was not lengthy. I was not present in the Chamber when he made his second-reading speech; however, I read it in the 'Hansard' pulls.
I was astounded by the meagre justification given for introducing the legislation. I can only jump to the conclusion that the Government feels extremely guilty about the whole situation.
The Deputy Premier stated the purpose of the Bill in the following terms-
'The purpose of the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Hill 1985 is to make it clear and to declare that the mention of the 1879 legislation was-
(1) that the lands in question be vested in the Crown in right of Queensland;
(2) that the land was freed and discharged from any right, interest or claim that the occupants of the land may have claimed to have existed prior to annexation.'
I hoped that the honourable member for Mount Coot-tha (Mr Lickiss) would develop that latter part. I am happy to accept the former of the two parts, that is, 'that the lands in question be vested in the Crown in right of Queensland'. That is fair enough. However, it was not necessary to introduce the Bill to say that, because it is clearly set out in the Act. The honourable member for Mount Coot-tha referred to sections of the Queensland Coast Islands Act of 1879, which I will repeat shortly. Under that legislation it was clear that the lines that were drawn in those days, whether it was right or wrong to draw those lines, were accurately and properly drawn. There is a more nefarious purpose behind this Bill. It is not admirable for this Assembly to be using its time debating legislation that is not proper. I repeat that this legislation is not quite proper.
The schedule to the proclamation, which was made so long ago on 21 July 1879, states- '... all Islands included within a line drawn from Sandy Cape northward to the south-eastern limit of Great Barrier Reefs; thence following the line of the Great Barrier Reefs to their north-eastern extremity near the latitude of nine and a half degrees south...'
It then goes on to take in all the cays and the islands by that very definition.
It was clear at the time when the proclamation was made and when the Act was passed that they were all legal and above board. The Bill is now being introduced for some very strange reason. I believe that the Bill is being introduced to confound before the High Court the case of Eddie Mabo and Others v. The Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government. That is what this legislation is all about. The Deputy leader of the Opposition touched on the matter. He said that the legislation was being introduced to save argument and to simplify proceedings before that very august court. Although that is the Government's view, and that is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, the Opposition does not think that that will be the result. The Labor Party is of the opinion that the Government is simply denying litigants the right to have their case heard in court.
It is a very interesting case. Undoubtedly, it is a land rights test case. When the Queensland Government starts talking about land rights, it is touching upon a subject in which it is extremely weak. As I have said on so many occasions in this House, the Queensland Government has two stories on land rights; one for the black people and the other for the grazing fraternity. It uses them very deliberately. It sends its emissaries out to tell them.
The Queensland Government is hypocritical. Undoubtedly it will eventually be brought down over the land rights issue and it will be confounded. A very good case for land rights exists, and the High Court of Australia would be the appropriate place to hear such a case. The Bill is an attempt to frustrate its being heard. Of course, another piece of legislation will be coming before the House relating to land rights that the Government claims to be giving to the Aboriginal and Islander people in Australia.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also outlined very capably the details of the Mabo case. I do not want to repeat what has already been said. However, I will a few comments. It is interesting to look at the case being heard at present. The plaintiffs argue that the Murray Islands have been occupied under a system of land tenure by Torres Strait Islanders since time immemorial. That is indisputable. It is evidenced by the development of that island and the stories and history, which go back long before a white presence on the Murray Islands, that the islanders can relate. The plaintiffs argue also that the British Crown's occupation in 1879 did not extinguish their rights to the island. The Government has not put up any argument that those rights have in fact been extinguished.
In the second part of the Minister's argument on the need for the Bill, he said that the land was freed and discharged from any right. Why was it freed and discharged from any right? The Minister has not told honourable members why. Perhaps in his reply he will enlighten honourable members. In all probability, the Minister will simply demonstrate his incredible lack of knowledge of the area and the matters under discussion.
Mr Gunn: You have never visited the area. You wouldn't know. You ought to hear what they say about you.
Mr SCOTT: The Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer should look at the figures.
Mr Eaton interjected.
Mr SCOTT: That shows what Government members think of that country. The Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer has no idea. However, he can do one thing to refresh his memory and improve his understanding-look at the voting figures.
The plaintiffs in the Mabo case do not believe that the Crown's occupation extinguished their rights to the islands. I also support that argument. That argument fits in quite well with the accepted view that the Murray Islands and the people who live on them are part of Australia. It is indisputable that they are part of Australia.
The argument about extinguishing rights to the islands also has validity. It is Labor Party policy to provide inalienable freehold title to that land for the Aboriginal and Islander people. I will return to that shortly.
The plaintiffs further argue that, since 1901, the capacity to extinguish those rights passed to the Commonwealth and does not subsist in the State of Queensland. I amplify that statement by saying that the State of Queensland has done many things to reinforce the view that Aboriginal and Islander people have a right to those lands without being outside the nation of Australia. The plaintiffs argue that the Queensland Government's proposal to issue deeds of grant in trust over these lands is invalid. That is a very interesting point, and it is part of the reason why the legislation is before the House.
The Queensland Government has been on very shaky ground over its deed of grant in trust legislation. I do not, as a back-bench member, seek to discuss other proposed legislation. However, that the Government is on shaky ground will be seen when legislation is debated that seeks to give some other form of tenure to Aboriginal and Islander people.
A couple of years ago the Queensland Government introduced the deed of grant in trust legislation. It has never had the intestinal fortitude lo implement it. Although it is not what they wanted, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people sought to have that deed of grant in trust legislation implemented. Of course, because the Queensland Government is aware of many weaknesses in the legislation, it has not had the courage to implement it and see how it works.
I was interested to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Burns) speak about a petition presented to the Queensland Government representing the views of Torres Strait Islanders on a desirable form of land tenure. Of course, they opted for inalienable freehold title. I have previously outlined to the House the way in which the petition was formulated. It was thoroughly debated by the people. A group of senior Torres Strait Islanders travelled throughout the Torres Strait area and spoke to every island community. They clearly explained the different forms of land tenure. They spoke not only in English but also in their own language so that it was fully understood by the people. The people were asked to express a democratic opinion. Almost 99 per cent were in favour of inalienable freehold title.
The leaders in the Torres Strait area did something that the Queensland Government had never been prepared to do. They sat down at the grassroots level and spoke to the people in the communities. They told them what was happening. I indicate for the information of the Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer that what is appreciated about the way in which the Labor Party representatives operate in that area is that we sit down and talk to the people in a way that can be understood, in a way that one talks to the ordinary people in Queensland. They know what we are talking about. They know what the Labor Party policy is. Unfortunately, they also know the Queensland Government's policy. They are against that policy, as they have indicated by their voting in numerous elections.
Mr De Lacy: Mr Katter sits down and talks to them and then takes no notice of what they say.
Mr SCOTT: That is so. As well, he does not even do what he tells them he will do. He is a dreadful emissary of the Government amongst the people.
Tied to the Mabo land-rights case is the Papua New Guinea/Australian border dispute. It is pertinent and valid for it to be raised in the debate. The Premier and Treasurer, who once again is not in the House to take part in such an important debate should know the details of the so-called border dispute. Many years ago he went to the Torres Strait area and said, 'Border. No change.' On many occasions I have given the details of that. However, it cannot be stressed too often that the Government sold those people down the drain-according to what Government representatives told them, not according to what Australia or Papua New Guinea might think. The Premier was carried
ashore by big Torres Strait island people. He would not even wet his feet in the water of the Torres Strait. When the time arrived for the document to be signed to ratify the border agreement, where were the Premier and the Deputy Premier? They did not even travel to Port Moresby to extend respect to a neighbouring country. They were down here doing their share of union-bashing.
Mr Gunn interjected. ~
Mr SCOTT: The Deputy Premier does not even know who went to Port Moresby. Who went there for his Government?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Row): Order! The debate is developing into personal exchanges.
Mr SCOTT: I have made the point plainly that the Deputy Premier does not know who travelled to Port Moresby to sign such an important agreement. It is probably the only occasion on which such an important border has been changed so amicably-in spite of the stirring by the Premier.
Tho 8ill has implications for the border treaty agreement. It is aimed also at frustrating the strong case presented by the plaintiffs before the High Court of Australia in the Mabo case.
The land-rights argument in Australia begins with the resolution of whether Australia was previously a settled country and was taken by force or was an empty area. I hope that will be referred to by members from the other side of the House-and that includes the Liberals; we are never quite certain where they are. They have flown the Government flag very early in the piece this time, declaring that they will back the legislation. On the other hand, tho Opposition has said that it will not vote for the legislation. The Liberals should be ashamed of themselves They have a Iand-rights policy. Why do they not talk about it in the House? I notice an honourable member grinning about the Liberal Iand-rights policy. Tho mind boggles at the juxtaposition of those words.
Mr Davis: How many pages?
Mr SCOTT: How many paragraphs or, should I say, how many sentences? Liberals do have a policy, but it has never been discussed. I challenge members of the Liberal Party to develop their argument instead of saying, 'We will be over there voting with the Government.' At present, three of them are in the House. Let them tell us about their arguments.
Mr Innes: Two.
Mr SCOTT: I have committed a cardinal sin. I am sorry that I have lumped the member for Ithaca (Mr Miller) with his former colleagues. One is never too certain these days.
Mr Veivers: He is contemplating going back.
Mr SCOTT: I do not think his sitting with them is even symbolic.
Having dea1t with those minor diversions, I return to the subject matter of the Bill. I would like to hear a case put by the Liberal Party about whether or not Australia was a settled country and whether or not the people of the Murray Islands had been farming that land for many years prior to the occupation of Australia by white settlers. The corollary is that the land was taken by force, although that is not necessarily the case with the Murray Islands. If that had been the case, the Government would have had a very strong fight on its hands. More subtle means were used, and the establishment arm of religion had a part to play.
Australia was conquered by force of arms, and I do not know whether honourable members are prepared to stand up and face that fact. I say that because I know that it is true and there are numerous cases of pitched battles fought between armed police and Aborigines. That proves the conquering element of Australia's settlement, and that Is a matter of the written history as well as of the unwritten history of Australia.
The question whether Australia is a settled country is epitomised by the Murray Islands settlement, where every family owns a piece of land and traditional, watertight ownership has been in existence for decades. The people are sufficiently proud of the land to mount a case and present it to the High Court. No action taken by either Queensland or Federal Governments has been able to extinguish the claim made to that land, or to remove from history the fact that the land was settled and worked by the people who live there. I said previously that action such as setting up reserves and Government recognition of tribal areas has strengthened the claims of black people. Through the Department of Community Services, the Queensland Government has developed an archaeological section that has documented the tribal aspects of ownership of land.
The Commonwealth Government, the Government of Queensland and various Oppositions have espoused a policy about land rights, so there is no need for honourable members to worry. The Opposition wants to see the land rights policies implemented and the Opposition does not wish to see attempts to do so frustrated in any way,
An additional argument in support of apparent recognition by the Queensland Government of land rights is to be found in the fact that when the border argument took place, signs were placed in prominent places indicating that the land on all of the reserves was Aboriginal or Islander land. The signs are still there, and I am quite certain that one is still to be found on the Murray Islands. A sign there clearly stated the purpose of the reserves and recognised the de facto ownership of that land. The Queensland Government has tried previously, and is trying now, to frustrate the claim that is being made before the High Court of Australia.
The honourable member for Lytton (Mr 8urns) spoke about the earlier history and attempts by the Queensland Government to frustrate High Court cases by constantly changing the ground rules. That is a typical ploy that is adopted by the Queensland Government. However, the legislation presently before the House represents a further and major step in the Government's attempts to frustrate. Another circumstance that led to the High Court challenge and to the strong argument advanced for land rights in Australia was that the Queensland Government totally ignored, in particular, the people
of the Torres Strait islands, as well as all other Aboriginal people in communities spread throughout Queensland.
I have referred previously to the lack of a domestic water supply for people who live in communities in the Torres Strait islands group. The small improvement that the Queensland Government has been able to effect is quite inadequate, and it is proper to mention the inadequacies of Government in a debate that concerns a Bill relating to one group of islands. The Murray Islands water supply consists of a windmill, a clapped-out diesel engine, a very small tank situated on the top of a hill, and a great many corroded pipes that are supposed to supply people who live in the community. I have received many complaints about the inadequacy of the water supply, and I have transmitted those complaints to the appropriate section of the Queensland Government. The complaints have been totally ignored.
The Murray Islands have not been provided with an electricity supply. The Queensland Government has been very remiss in not providing such a basic amenity for people who live in that part of Queensland. I could go on and on and talk about the other things that the Queensland Government has not done in that area. The school situation-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Row): Order! The honourable member cannot decide his own definition of relevance. I suggest that he is now becoming totally irrelevant to the provisions of this Bill. Surely there will be another debate during which he can mention the subject that he was about to discuss. He will return to the Bill.
Mr SCOTT: Certainly, Mr Deputy Speaker. Far be it from me to move away from your ruling. I think that they are important issues and that a conscientious member should take every opportunity to air them in this House.
In conclusion, I will make further reference to the High Court case which you, Mr Deputy Speaker, have to admit is relevant, because it was mentioned in the Minister's second-reading speech. If that case proceeds, it will allow the correctness of the Gove decision, which was an earlier Northern Territory lands right decision, to be judicially considered. It will raise a number of complex questions of international law, constitutional law, property law and administrative law. In particular it will provide the first full scale opportunity for the High Court to consider fundamental questions about the basis of
European settlement in Australia, the very things that I have been talking about today, and the relationship between the settlers and the original inhabitants, that very important, point on which the Liberal Party has been so silent. Of course, I would not expect National Party members to talk about such things. The quotation which I cited came from the Aboriginal Law Bulletin No. 4 of 1982. I hope that this debate continues and that some valid points are made.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Before I call the next speaker, I point out to the honourable member for Cook that, although he raised the involvement of the Parliament in matters which he considered were in violation of the sub judice provisions, according to 'Erskine May-Parliamentary Practice', on page 378, dealing with matters awaiting judicial decision-
'The general rule applies ... qualified by the right of the House to legislate on any matter.'
Consequently I point out to the House that in fact it has the right to legislate on this matter according to the rules laid down.
Mr SCOTT: But not to debate such things. It can legislate, but not debate.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I do not see that as the position. I want to make it quite clear that I was not remiss in allowing the debate to proceed.
Mr VEIVERS (Ashgrove) (2.57 p.m.): I am concerned about certain aspects of this Bill and the whole thrust of the legislation that is continually being put forward by Government in relation to land and the control of land. A certain air of fear has pervaded the whole thrust of the Government's legislative program. The rule seems to be annexation without compensation. Legislation has contained fairly severe regulatory provisions which seem to take away the rights of individuals who have owned freehold land tor many years. Recently many Bills have seemed to contain some kind of threat by this Government, and this Bill is in the same vein. It seems to me to be an attack on a very important principle that has been enshrined in our way of life for many years, that of owning freehold land.
If a Government sees fit to take freehold title away from an individual or a group of people, it has the power to do so, but compensation should always be paid.
Clause 5 states- 'No compensation was or is payable to any person... '
That is another example of the high-handed attitude adopted by the Government.
In 1879, these islands were first proclaimed as proposed property of this State. In those days, there were in existence title deeds that had the stamp of approval of Queen Victoria. This legislation continues to ignore that position. That is a very serious attitude for any Government to adopt.
I shall refer to the attitude that the Government has adopted in recent times towards the ownership of land in this State As my colleague the honourable member (Mr Scott) has pointed out, there seems to be one land law for the rich and another for the poor. There is certainly a land law for the privileged and another for the underprivileged.
Mr Lickiss: What title do you have for your land?
Mr VEIVERS: I have freehold title.
Mr Lickiss: You must be in the category of the rich.
Mr VEIVERS: I am afraid that I am not. Many Government members would like to take over the land of other people, whether they are privileged or underprivileged.
In this State there is certainly one law for the whites and another for the coloureds. There is certainly a degree of inconsistency in that area.
With regard to land-ownership throughout this country, it is enshrined in the Australian Constitution that if a person has freehold title, that title makes the land his private property, his domain. Throughout the history of this State and this nation, all the statutes have defended that principle. Time after time, legislation has been introduced into this Chamber to attack that basic principle. The Australian Constitution sets out that principle quite clearly. No specific State laws defend the right to ownership or the right to freehold title. However, it has always been understood in this State that that right to private ownership was protected. Of course, the Australian Constitution supersedes State situations. In a later part of my speech, I shall foreshadow the taking of substantial action, possibly this year, in relation to an attack being made on the ownership of land in this State.
On 3 April 1984, when debating the Land Act Amendment Bill, I referred to what the Minister for Water Resources and Maritime Services (Mr Goleby) said when introducing the Nerang River Entrance Development Bill. He stated-
'That payment of compensation for freehold lands acquired by the Crown or a statutory authority for public purposes is a well established policy embodied in statute law.'
Yet clause 5 of this Bill states-
'Claims to compensation. No compensation was or is payable to any person-
(a) by reason of the annexation of the islands to Queensland;
(b) in respect of any right, interest or claim alleged to have existed prior to the annexation of the islands to Queensland or in respect of any right, interest or claim alleged to derive from such a right, interest or claim;'.
The attitude of the Government is that it can take over people's land. It does not matter how long people have held land; the Government says that it does not have to worry about compensation. That is the attitude that the Government adopts towards land rights.
I shall refer to some other areas in this State in which similar difficulties have arisen. Order of the Day No. 18 on the Business Paper relates to the Kangaroo Point Land Development Bill.
Mr McPhie interjected.
Mr VEIVERS: The Government is not game to bring that Bill further up the list on the Business Paper, because it has caused so much flak. I wonder whether it will be on the list when Parliament resumes later in the year. It is absolutely draconian legislation.
This Bill attacks freehold title and ownership of land, and I view it in exactly the same light as I do the Kangaroo Point Land Development Bill.
Mr Lickiss: Isn't the ALP policy a leasehold policy and not a freehold policy?
Mr VEIVERS: If and when the Kangaroo Point Land Development Bill is debated I will be interested in the attitude of the Liberal Party.
Mr Davis: Don't worry about the wishy-washy Liberals.
4942 9 Apnl 1985 Queensland Coast Declaratory Act
Mr VEIVERS: I notice that they have been called the wishy-washy Liberals-20c each way.
Problems have arisen on the south side of the river because the Government has annexed properties in the Expo site. Land has been resumed and later it will be resold at a high profit margin. It is a very tricky and dangerous, area for any Government to interfere with,
The privileged and not-so-privileged supporters of the National Party enjoy considerable advantages over other people in the State, particularly those who are not in as favourable a financial position or who are of different political persuasions. Time after time, friends of the Government receive favourable treatment. The 'Silver Plains' issue is a recent coastal land-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Row): Order! The honourable member is getting right away from the Torres Strait islands. I suggest that he come back to the Bill, I will not listen to him wandering all over the State.
Mr VEIVERS: Mr Deputy Speaker, I take cognisance of your ruling. This Bill concerns, freehold title to land, annexation and compensation, and reference must be made to other events. However, because of your ruling, I will not continue along that line.
I make the point that, in the last 18 months, similar pieces of legislation have been introduced involving the annexation of land, but compensation has not been paid, In March or April last year I made a speech about an island off the coast. The same principles should be applied in that case as are being disscussed in this debate. On that occasion I referred to a person who has a deed, bearing Queen Victoria's seal, to land on Stradbroke Island. That land has been annexed by the Government, but compensation has not been paid. That is the parallel I draw.
An Honourable Member: What is his name?
Mr VEIVERS: His name is Mr Tuesley and much of his 1and-
Mr Jennings: It is under water.
Mr VEIVERS: When the honourable member for Southport first came up to Queensland from Victoria, he did not know where nerang Street was. In fact, he had probably never been to the Gold Coast in his life. He still does not know where his land is today. He does not know what he is talking ahout, because the land in question is not under water.
Mr Jennings interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I ask the honourable member to come back to the Bill.
Mr VEIVERS: The honourable member for Southport does not know what he is talking about; the land is, not under water.
Mr Jennings: I will come with you any time and we'll go and find it.
Mr VEIVERS: The honourable member for Southport should be very careful. It has just been suggested to me that I should take him over there and hold his head under the water. I will take up the offer made by the member for Southport. I believe that Mr Tuesley, the man to whom I am referring, offered to take the honourable member for Southport over there and show him the land in question, but the honounble member refused. The land in question is coastal land. It is part of an island. That is why I am now drawing attention to the matter.
Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Bill 9 April 1985 4943
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER Order! I do not intend to allow this personal argument between the member for Southport and the member for Ashgrove to continue. I ask the honourable member for Ashgrove to address the Chair.
Mr VEIVERS: The honourable member for Southport made me an offer I could not refuse.
The land on the Gold Coast Spit and South Stradbroke Island is relevant. As I foreshadowed earlier, I am sure that later on this year that land will be the subject of further action. The Government's failure to honour that title is an attack on the very basic principles of land tenure and private ownership. . Mr Tuesley holds a deed which bears the seal of Queen Victoria. That is dated 10 October 1878, which is the approximate date of the assent to the Queensland Coast Islands Act and the proclamation thereunder
This matter bears on a very important principle. Some of the land is still above the high-water mark. It is legally owned by Mr Tuesley.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Ashgrove has made his point on the similarity between the case he is mentioning and the legislation. I cannot allow him to continue to discuss this case, which has nothing lo do with the subject-matter of the Bill. If the honourable member does not come back to the Bill, I will have to ask him to resume his seat.
Mr VEIVERS: Mr Deputy Speaker, I accept your ruling. I appreciate your allowing me to draw that parallel. I was frequently interrupted by the honourable member for Southport, who is obviously extremely sensitive about the issue, which is a very important principle and a very important aspect of State legislation.
I can only endorse the comments made by my colleagues in relation to the Government's attitude to the Islanders who will be affected by the Bill. Why does the Government now see fit to introduce a 8ill of this nature? What fear does the Government have about the existing arrangements for those islands in the north? Why is it necessary to introduce this legislation? My only comment in relation to that is that since I entered this place, because of the type of devious legislation that the Government has introduced I have developed an extremely suspicious mind. All I can say in relation to this legislation to this the Government must have a motive different from the one that the Opposition can see. Why has the Government now produced this legislation? The reaction from members on this side of the House should be seen in the light of the Government's total lack of commitment to the Islanders and its devious approach to the administration of land tenure in this State.
Hon. W. A. M. GUNN (Somerset-Deputy Premier and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (3.15 p.m.), in reply: I thank honourable members for their contributions. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed that the Bill has some relationship with the Torres Strait Treaty. That is not correct. He also stated that the view of the Islanders was that their rights to land did not cease on annexation in 1879. The Queensland Coast Islands Act of 1879, which provided for the annexation of the islands by the Queensland Governor, states that upon annexation the islands 'become part of the Colony of Queensland and shall be and become subject to the laws in force therein'. The Bill before the House reaffirms that state of affairs. It is as simple as that. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also claimed-
Mr Burns: You never enforced Queensland laws in that way.
Mr GUNN: They have always been subject to Queensland laws.
Mr Burns: We never changed their system, and we still haven't.
Mr CUNN: The Queensland Government is not changing their system.
Mr Burns: You are.
Mr GUNN: The Queensland Government is not changing their system.
4944 9 April 1985 Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Bill
The Deputy leader of the 0pposition also claimed that the intention is to frustrate the Islanders case that is proceeding in the High Court. Again, that is not correct.
Mr Burns: It is proceeding.
Mr GUNN. It is proceeding, but the Queensland Government will not frustrate them, they can do what they like. The Bill only declares what has always been the position. The Bill outlines the position.
The honourable member for Mount Coot-tha (Mr Lickiss) supported the Bill. He has an understanding of the Bill and what the Queensland Government is trying to do. Everything that he said was correct.
The honourable member for Cook (Mr Scott) asked, 'Why did the 1879 Act extinguish the Islanders' rights?' The islands were annexed to Queensland and became subject to Queensland law. The Islanders had the same rights as all other Queenslanders. In other words, they are Queenslanders and are treated as Queenslanders.
The honourable member also claimed that Islanders were sold down the drain because of the Torres Strait Treaty. Once again, that is nonsense. The Islanders wanted to remain Queensland citizens. Unless the Queensland Government had intervened, Mr Whitlam would have given the islands to Papua New Guinea. All Opposition members know that. When I visited the area, the Islanders were wearing badges bearing the word. 'Border-No Change'. Whitlam was prepared to give them away. Had Queensland not intervened, they would have been part of New Guinea. The Islanders never wanted that. There is no way in the world that the Islanders wanted that. The Islanders were led by two Melbourne University do-gooders, a Queen's Counsel named Kastan and a person named Keon. The Islanders were being led by those persons from Melbourne University. They're a long way from Murray lsland. They were leading the Islanders up the garden path. Litigation has not stopped; it is still proceeding. I do not intend to enlarge on that matter. I am sure that no one in this Chamber would want to do so. The Bill will not alter the lifestyle of Islanders. The Queensland Government has an excellent record of achievement in Torres Strait and will continue to do its utmost for the Islanders. Education, health and other services have been provided. The Queensland government has provided a great deal of assistance for the Islanders and there is no doubt that they appreciate that assistance.
Question-That the Bill be now read a second time (Mr Gunn's motion)-put; and the House divided--
Gibbs I J
Gibbs R J
Warner A M
Resolved in the affirmative.
Keywords: Mabo v Queensland No.1, native title claim, plaintiffs, Queensland, Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act , 1985 , Queensland Government, 1985
Author: Kenna, Jonathan