Richard Court

Richard Court


    Premier challenges Labor to support native title legislation

    9/11/2000 9:36 AM

      Premier Richard Court has thrown out a challenge to Labor leader Geoff Gallop to convince his Federal colleagues to support Western Australia’s native title legislation or risk widespread damage to the State’s exploration and mining industry.

      The disallowance motion on WA’s Native Title (State Provisions) Act is expected to be debated in the Federal Senate today.

      Mr Court said 10,000 mineral title claims were log-jammed in Western Australia, and hundreds of geologists were not working in their profession, because the exploration industry was stifled by the current unworkable native title regime.

      The Premier said Dr Gallop should put the interests of WA’s mining industry ahead of party politics and encourage his Federal colleagues to support WA’s legislation.

      “We have tried to work under the Keating Government’s native title regime for the past six years and have found it serves only to divide Aboriginal communities,” Mr Court said.

      “Under this scenario, exploration in WA has been in serious decline - there was a 32 per cent drop in activity last year, and a 38 per cent drop the year before.

      “In contrast, WA’s State Provisions legislation offers Aboriginal communities and the mining industry an opportunity to develop relationships built on mutual respect and trust built up through meaningful consultation.

      “While WA’s native title legislation will ultimately be decided in the Federal Senate, this issue will be a real test of Dr Gallop’s leadership.

      “He should be calling on his Federal leader Kim Beazley, a Western Australian, and his party colleagues to support our legislation so the mining and exploration industry can move ahead with certainty and confidence.”

      Media contact: Justine Whittome 9222 9475