Native Title Amendments Passed
Attorney-General Robert McClelland and the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin today welcomed the passage of legislation through Parliament that will help speed up the delivery of urgent public housing and infrastructure in Indigenous communities.
The Native Title Amendment Bill (No.1) 2010 makes it easier for public housing and infrastructure to be built on land where native title may exist.
“The new process strikes a balance between the urgent provision of these critical services and our commitment to the protection of native title rights,” Mr McClelland said.
“State and territory governments will now be able to act quickly to tackle the urgent need for housing and infrastructure in Indigenous communities.”
Ms Macklin said decent housing was critical to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
“It is essential for protecting children, improving health, education and employment and re-building positive social norms,” Ms Macklin said.
“This legislation will be particularly important for getting housing and infrastructure built in Western Australia and Queensland.”
The Australian Government has committed $5.5 billion over 10 years under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing to deliver up to 4,200 additional new houses and about 4,800 upgrades to existing houses in remote communities.
In some cases, states are meeting their housing targets by building on land not affected by native title, but there is still significant need for Indigenous housing on native title land.
The new legislation will mean that states can build houses and infrastructure on land affected by native title, without lengthy delays and confusion.
It provides a new, simpler process, which will include discussion with native title holders and claimants.
States are required to hold consultations about the proposed development if requested by the native title party and a report must be made available to the Commonwealth Attorney-General on each engagement process. This will help promote transparency and good faith discussions.
The legislation reduces red tape, preserves native title and provides for compensation to be sought for any impact on native title.
It also demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to improving housing and infrastructure in Indigenous communities, and to respecting the rights of native title holders and claimants.
The new provisions will operate for ten years, in line with the duration of the COAG National Partnership Agreement.