The Future of Native Title
The Australian Government has announced it will drive reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) to ensure a sustainable and fair native title system that creates economic and social opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
Speaking at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Native Title Conference in Townsville, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Minister for Families, Communities and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said that 20 years on from Mabo with native title well entrenched in Australian law, it is now time to look forward to shape the next 20 years.
“Twenty years after Mabo, I am pleased to announce a package of legislative reforms to the Native Title Act,” Ms Roxon said.
“The Government will improve the flexibility and scope of Indigenous Land Use Agreements, create clear requirements for good faith in negotiations and allow parties to form agreements about historical extinguishment of native title in parks and reserves.
“Importantly, we will clarify that income tax and capital gains tax will not apply to payments from a native title agreement.
“I strongly believe that these reforms on top of the Native Title Tribunal reforms announced in the budget will improve the quality of negotiations, encourage positive relationships through flexible agreement-making and speed up the determination process. They will also help Indigenous people to unlock the economic benefits of their native title,” Ms Roxon said.
“I want to emphasise today that the Government will consult extensively on the terms of legislative change.”
Ms Macklin also announced the terms of reference for a review of native title organisations, to ensure the system is delivering for Indigenous people and communities.
“Today, the native title system is made up not only of people claiming native title under the Native Title Act, but a growing number of already determined native title holders.
“As the native title system has matured, the role of native tile organisations has changed. Now is an appropriate time to review how they can best work for people in the future,” Ms Macklin said.
The review will examine not only Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Service Providers, but also consider the role and impact of other service providers to native title groups.
The Australian Government has also announced $7.8 million additional funding to support native title groups:
- $5.4 million to The Aurora Education Foundation expand their current training, professional development and scholarship program for native title organisations.
- $2.4 million to continue the important work of the native title research unit of Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
The Attorney-General also announced the successful recipients of the $540,000 Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program for 2012-13.