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8 December 1966 Aboriginal Lands Trust Act

8 December 1966       Aboriginal Lands Trust Act

A pioneering piece of legislation was passed in the South Australian Parliament when the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act, the first ever Act in Australia to recognize Aboriginal land rights, was assented to on 8 December 1966. Don Dunstan introduced the Bill to grant Aborigines pre-eminent mineral rights for the land held in Trust. He also argued that in theory in the founding of the colony plans by the British Government to preserve Aboriginal rights to land had been subverted and they had been dispossessed. Dunstan maintained that rights to minerals ‘would be some small compensation for the failure to provide the Aboriginal people of South Australia with the land which … they were to be provided with on the founding of the province’. (SAPD 13/7/66, p.477.) However, this provision of the Bill was removed by the Opposition in the Upper House. The Aboriginal Lands Trust Act created a Trust in which Aboriginal land can be vested; it is separate from the Public Service and consists of three or more members, all of Aboriginal descent. Aboriginal Reserves can be vested in the Trust and the Government can transfer other crown lands to it and can also (with the approval of the Minister) buy, lease and sell land to which it holds title.

A. Parkin & A. Patience (Eds), The Dunstan Decade, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1981, pp.132-33.

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