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Labor cautions over Indigenous land ownership laws

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 6 April 2005

The Federal Opposition has warned the Commonwealth to consult widely before making any changes to the system of Indigenous land ownership in Australia.

During a visit to a remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community today, the Prime Minister said there was a need to change the way Indigenous land ownership is handled.

The Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin has supported a proposal to allow individual leasehold ownership in some communities.

The ABC has obtained a document from the National Indigenous Council canvassing changes to land rights legislation to force Aboriginal land owners to allow any request for a lease on their land.

Federal Labor leader Kim Beazley says if the Commonwealth is considering changes to Native Title or the Northern Territory Land Rights Act then it should consult widely.

"I hope whatever is being done is being done on the basis of appropriate consultation with the owners themselves, the Aboriginal people and that what is being done, is being done in a way that ensures that they are happy with the outcome," Mr Beazley said.

"I do trust Claire Martin, she's very good. I'm not sure about the Prime Minister."

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