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Chairman urges Parliament to consider reforms

Posted: Mon, July 15, 2013

Mr Wunungmurra and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at Yirrkala last Wednesday. Picture: Bob Gosford

NORTHERN Land Council Chairman Wali Wunungmurra has sent a gentle reminder to Federal Parliament of his desire to have Aboriginal land rights recognised in the Australian Constitution, and that there is more work to be done for people living in Top End communities.

Reiterating what he said on ABC Darwin’s 7.30 Report recently, Mr Wunungmurra was hopeful that regardless of who would win office at the upcoming Federal election, Aboriginal people’s land rights would be protected in the Constitution.

“I think we need to go further and I know some people may disagree with me,” Mr Wunungmurra said during the six-minute interview, “but I’d like to see the Land Rights Act itself becoming inserted into the Constitution of Australia; to protect it from people watering it down and tearing it apart.

“I personally think that that would be a safe place (for it).”

Mr Wunungmurra repeated his desire to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after both spoke at the 50-year celebrations of the bark petitions at Yirrkala in north east Arnhem Land. Mr Wunungmurra was a signatory to the two bark petitions in 1963 which kick-started the Aboriginal land rights movement.

“We had a general meeting with him (Mr Rudd) and I said to him that things aren’t happening fast enough on Aboriginal settlements,” Mr Wunungmurra said.

“But there was nothing definite said as there is an election happening.

“I think the people at Yirrkala will let him think about these things and we will wait and see what happens.”