Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Historic Gove Agreement Approved

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today announced her approval and consent to the Rio Tinto Alcan Gove Traditional Owners Agreement and lease under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

The Agreement and lease secure the future operations of the bauxite mine, alumina refinery, Nhulunbuy township and related operations on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory.

This historic Agreement between Rio Tinto Alcan, the Northern Land Council and the relevant Traditional Owners of the Gove Peninsula includes a range of financial, contractual, asset and employment benefits for Aboriginal traditional owners.

Until now there has not been a negotiated agreement in place in relation to the Gove mining operations.

The dispute over mining on the Gove Peninsula has led to some of the most significant moments in the history of land rights in Australia.

These include the Bark Petition to the Australian Parliament in 1963; the 1971 Gove Land Rights Case, where the Northern Territory Supreme Court ruled that native title was not part of Australian law; the subsequent Woodward Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights initiated by the Whitlam Government which recommended the recognition of land rights; and the eventual passage of landmark rights legislation by the Fraser Government in 1976.

I congratulate the parties involved on reaching a comprehensive mining agreement of historic importance that will provide lasting benefits for Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal people in the region.

I look forward to joining with the parties in the near future to celebrate this historic achievement.