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Indigenous adviser calls for new look at land rights

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 6 December 2004

A member of the newly-appointed National Indigenous Council (NIC) has called for a new approach to communal land rights for Aborigines.

Warren Mundine, who is also a vice-president of the Labor Party, says Indigenous people must move away from communal land ownership and take up profit-making businesses and land development.

Mr Mundine says Aboriginal communities are not directly benefiting from the tribal ownership of land because the land cannot be bought and sold.

He says he will raise the matter when the NIC meets the Prime Minister and other senior ministers this week in Canberra.

"What land rights is doing in regard to communal ownership [is] the profits and the benefits of that ownership is not being spread throughout the community," he said.

"It's retarding our economic development you know where you cannot use land for economic benefit.

"You've got it locked away then what it's doing is we're being asset rich but we're being cash poor."

Former ATSIC social justice commissioner, Mick Dodson says it is a "very dangerous" proposal.

"I think he has no comprehension of what land means to people or how it's held," Mr Dodson said.

"Perhaps he ought to get out and learn about it and it's a little frightening that he's saying things like this if he's to be a member of this new appointed organisation."

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