"We appeal to all Australian politicians - National, State and Territory - to endorse publicly and unequivocally the High Court's native title decisions as just and correct decisions. The recent Wik decision recognised a policy and practice in Australia for over 150 years of both pastoralists and Aboriginal people co-existing on pastoral leases. Since the 1840's Aborigines and pastoralists in many parts of the country have lived on and used the same leasehold land but for different purposes. Leasehold land is not freehold, and should not be the subject of a "land-grab" by any sectional interest.

The Wik decision was a further strengthening of the reconciliation process between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, which, if sabotaged at this stage, will leave Australia, in the words of our Governor-General Sir William Deane, "a diminished nation".

The Wik decision respected the rights of both pastoralists and Aboriginal people. Certainty is required for both groups. This can not be provided by wiping out the legitimate rights of Aboriginal people. Negotiation is the only process, which will make coexistence workable for all parties, as evidenced by the recent success of the Cape York agreement. Aborigines, no less than pastoralists and miners, have to be at the negotiating table and their rights respected.

We ask you to be courageous and not give in to the destructive forces of selfishness, prejudice or ignorance. We ask you to stand firm in resisting any tampering with the Native Title Act or the Racial Discrimination Act that could lead to extinguishment of native title - in name or in fact. We believe that this path could lead to the most serious damage to the social fabric of Australian society and to our standing in the international community. Do not diminish our nation".

Signed statements were required to be sent to the address below by 31-8-1997:

c/o Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education,
PO Box 154,
Balmain NSW 2041
or FAX to:
(02) 9810 3033

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