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Tas to hand land to Aboriginal communities

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 23 March 2005

Parcels of land in the Furneaux Group of islands will be handed back to the Aboriginal community after a historic vote this afternoon in Tasmania's Legislative Council.

Clyde Mansell from the Aboriginal Land Council says it is a historic day.

"This decision by the Legislative Council has moved Aboriginal affairs and Aboriginal reconciliation 20 years in advance of the rest of Australia," he said.

The transfer will be official once it receives Royal assent in a few months.

The vote caused emotional scenes in the chamber of the Upper House.

After nearly two days of tense debate, the Government's bill to hand back Cape Barren and Clarke Islands to the Aboriginal community looked like it was in trouble, with six votes for the transfer and five against.

Independent Huon MLC Paul Harris was last to speak, with most expecting he would vote the bill down, but he proved them wrong.

"It's time for Tasmania to embrace change and it's time for us to move another step ahead," he said.

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