Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Aboriginal Land Rights and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013

Joint Media Release with:

  • Mark Dreyfus MP
    Minister for Emergency Management

    Tony Burke MP
    Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

    Warren Snowdon MP
    Minister for Indigenous Health
    Member for Lingiari

The Aboriginal Land Rights and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 has passed the Parliament today, completing a major step in the innovative settlement agreement for the Jabiru native title claim, the longest running native title claim in the Northern Territory.

The Aboriginal Land Rights and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 lays down the legislative foundation of the settlement arrangements for the Jabiru claim area, which is within the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park and includes the Jabiru township.

Under the agreement, Mirarr traditional ownership of Jabiru is recognised by the scheduling of Jabiru and surrounding land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

Kakadu is a World Heritage area and one of the great treasures of our planet.

The expansion of Kakakdu was one of the greatest achievements of the Hawke Government and the park was completed only months ago by this Government.

This Bill recognises the Mirarr traditional owners’ protection and management of this land.

The amendments enable the transfer of ownership of the land from the Director of National Parks to the Kakadu Aboriginal Land Trust, which will hold the land on trust for its traditional owners.

Ensuring native title rights and benefits are used to create sustainable, long-term benefits for Indigenous communities is a priority of the Australian Government.

The Bill makes important amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 which allows proper town development of Jabiru within Kakadu National Park, without compromising its outstanding World Heritage values.

Jabiru has established itself as a thriving township that services Kakadu National Park as a tourist destination as well as the nearby Ranger uranium mine.

Leasing arrangements, to be agreed in consultation with Mirarr traditional owners, will allow for continued economic and social development within the town to provide the infrastructure and services necessary for the region.

Importantly, for business operators and other people living in the area, this Bill ensures that existing leases, subleases and other interests will be preserved following transfer of ownership to the Kakadu Aboriginal Land Trust.

Parties are continuing to work together to finalise leasing arrangements for Jabiru.

The Bill will also schedule a further parcel of land for Patta, near Tennant Creek, under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 to enable its grant to the Warti-Yangu Aboriginal Land Trust and contribute to the resolution of native title settlement arrangements.

This parcel of land joins five other parcels previously scheduled for Patta and granted as Aboriginal land on 4 March 2013.

Since 2007, the Australian Government has handed back 42,225 square kilometres of land under the Land Rights Act, more than 12 times the area of land handed back between 2002 and 2007.

The Aboriginal Land Rights and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 is part of our commitment to hand over land in the Northern Territory to its traditional owners and our efforts in reforming native title.