Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Supporting stronger governance in Indigenous native title corporations

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney General

The Australian Government will shortly release a discussion paper to initiate a consultation process on mechanisms to build stronger governance regimes in Indigenous native title corporations.

The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland and the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the discussion paper would outline a package of reforms to promote leading practice in native title agreements and the governance of native title payments.

Minister Macklin told the National Native Title Conference in Canberra today that over the coming decades the mining industry would continue to generate huge financial flows to native title holders, with these payments administered by native title corporations.

“As we all know, the existing regulatory rules applying to native title corporations are underdeveloped. This risks impairing their capacity to deliver financial security and independence for their communities,” Ms Macklin said.

“We want to expand policy discussion on governance regimes to achieve better outcomes in the use of native title payments.”

The Government will consider a range of related governance measures and complementary measures to streamline the future acts regime.

These include the incorporation, under the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act or the Corporations Act, of native title organisations which are in receipt of native title payments to provide oversight of agreements, in particular development-related or ‘future act’ agreements, negotiated under the Native Title Act 1993.

It will also progress work to clarify the meaning of ‘in good faith’ under the right to negotiate provisions.

The Attorney General said the discussion paper to be released shortly, would detail the Government’s initial response to the recent Governance Workshop convened by the Joint Working Group on Indigenous Land Settlements.

“It also builds on the work done by the Native Title Payments Working Group which developed suggestions for the Government about how to better utilise native title payments,” Mr McClelland said.

“The Governance Workshop was held in April this year and involved a range of experts across the native title system. Participants discussed leading practice on strengthening governance structures to support the management and implementation of benefits in native title agreements.”

Last month the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry, the Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister Macklin released a complementary discussion paper aimed at reforming tax arrangements in relation to native title payments, to achieve better outcomes for native title holders and their communities.

Minister Macklin also announced today that to help meet the identified shortage of experienced professionals working in the native title area, the Government was establishing a Native Title Research Scholarship.

With funding of up to $135,000, the new scholarships will support up to three students each year as they undertake post-graduate study relating to native title.

Minister Macklin’s speech to the Native Title Conference