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The Australian National University

Northern Territory land rights: purpose and effectiveness

Discussion Paper 180 / 1999


This discussion paper was commissioned as material for a Northern Land Council submission to the Reeves review of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (ALRA). It addresses the question, a specific term of reference for the conduct of Reeves' inquiry, of the ëeffectiveness of the legislation in achieving its purpose. Any answers to such a question can only be assessed once we are clear about what Justice Woodward saw as, and how he interpreted, his own terms of reference in formulating the Act. It is important to weigh Reeves' conclusions against Woodward's appreciation of what he saw as the purposes of the legislation. Such evaluations are essential with regard to the core principles of the legislation and Woodward's view that the over-