THE AUSTRALIAN parliament has passed legislation that gives aborigines the right to make claims on government-held territory if they can prove their unbroken connection to the land.
Under the law, passed in December, aborigines are obliged to respect mining, ranching and other leases on any property they win claim to. And, though they can argue against commercial projects, they do not have the power to veto them.
More than one-seventh of the country has already been set aside for the aborigines and the new law will affect an additional 5 to 10 per cent of the country. However, most aborigines now live in the cities and would, therefore, have no chance to establish valid claims on land.
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