In South Australia, where ownership of reserves had been vested in a state-wide body by the Aboriginals Lands Trust Act 1966, the Dunstan Labor Government commissioned an inquiry into the land rights of the Pitjantjatjara people of the State's north-west. After considering the inquiry's report and negotiating with representatives of the Pitjantjatjara people (the Pitjantjatjara Council had been formed in 1976), the South Australian Parliament (now under Dunstan's Liberal and Country League successor, John Tonkin) passed the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981. This law was followed in 1984 by the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984. Combined, these statutes vested 18 per cent of the State, under inalienable freehold title, in bodies corporate comprising all the traditional owners. These bodies, professionally staffed, act as the traditional owners' legal and political representatives. Mining interests who find they cannot negotiate acceptable terms with the traditional owners may request arbitration.
Keywords: Australian Labor Party, Dunstan, Don, land rights, Pitjantjatjara, Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act, 1981, South Australia, States' rights, 1966-1984
Author: Rowse, Tim and Graham, Trevor