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New Tas Aboriginal leaders promise land fight

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 1 September 2003


The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's new leadership team has promised to continue to fight for the return of Crown land.

Philip Beeton was appointed state president and Erica Maynard was re-elected as state secretary at the organisation's annual general meeting in Launceston yesterday.

Ms Maynard says ideally they would like all of Tasmania returned to the Aboriginal people.

"Considering it was ours to start with and we weren't given any compensation for it, that white settlers actually came here and took it off us, we're just asking for little bits of it back but ultimately we would like to have the whole of it back," she said.

"Obviously that's not going to happen but we're happy getting back what we are asking for, which is mainly Crown land that isn't readily accessible by non-Aboriginal or Aboriginal people."

Mr Beeton says he will lobby the Government to create more emergency housing for Aboriginal people, saying there is a serious shortage in the north-west, Hobart and Launceston.

The outgoing president Michael Mansell has expressed confidence in the new leadership team.

Mr Mansell chose not to stand for re-election, saying he wants to devote more time to writing.

He says the election for president was hotly-contested and Mr Beeton is an experienced campaigner and well respected.

Mr Mansell leaves the position with mixed feelings.

"There's an enormous amount of community involvement, in a whole range of different levels but in broader terms no I don't think that the situation for Aborigines is looking good," he said.

"I think unless we can turn things around, that we are going to end up with very little land, very little rights."


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