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The opponents of land rights: Cabinet

The arguments opposing land rights were put by the federal Cabinet, the Department of the Interior (dominated by Country Party concerns), and the Northern Territory Pastoralists Association. Peter Nixon, Minister for the Interior, set out Cabinet's opposition to land rights.

Page 1 of 4 This document contains the statement by the Minister for the Interior, PJ Nixon, on 8 August 1968 regarding Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights.

Aboriginal Land Rights statement, 1968

Peter Nixon, Aboriginal Land Rights leaflet, Australian Government Printing Service, Canberra, 1968.

More info on Aboriginal Land Rights statement, 1968

William C Wentworth, MHR, supported the Gurindji claim for land but he could not persuade Cabinet, which had offered the Gurindji access rights to the land they were occupying instead of title to it. [1]This intensified support for the Gurindji and land rights generally.

The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI), Abschol and the Victorian Council for Churches protested to Nixon. The Australian Council of Churches Division of Mission sent a telegram to the Prime Minister, John Gorton, supporting Gurindji claims for return of tribal land and requesting a government review of policy. Aware of the government's habit of seeing Communists as the main force questioning the status quo, Frank Engel added:

Support for Gurindji is not, repeat not, limited to Communists. [2]

Communists, Christians, unionists, students, academics and others were all critical of the government's handling of the land question.

Related resources


Frank Engel
William C Wentworth


Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders


1 Alan Ramsey, 'Wave Hill rebels win their case on land rights', The Australian, 2 July 1968.

2 Text of a telegram in a letter from Engel to Pittock, 28 August 1968, Barrie Pittock personal papers.

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