Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Rent payments for NTER five-year leases

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

The Australian Government today started paying rent to Aboriginal land owners for five-year leases covering 45 communities under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

The rent payments will be backdated to the commencement of the leases, and include all rent payable for the period up until 1 April 2010. The payments will continue to be made on an annual basis.

This demonstrates our commitment to fair payment of rent on Aboriginal land.

The Australian Government holds five-year leases over 64 communities in the Northern Territory under the NTER.

The five-year leases provide the Government with security of tenure and access for delivering services in communities.

The Government began rent payments for five-year leases for the two Tiwi Islands communities, Milikapiti and Pirlangimpi, in September 2009.

We are standing by to make payments to the remaining 16 Aboriginal corporations which hold title to community living areas once they provide bank account details.

An additional lease over Northern Territory Crown land at Canteen Creek does not involve a rent payment.

In 2008, in response to recommendations of the NTER Review Report, the Australian Government committed to reducing the boundaries of the leases, transitioning them to voluntary leases as quickly as possible and making fair payment for the five-year leases.

The Government undertook a comprehensive survey of the lease areas to accurately assess lease boundaries and exclude areas which are not essential to support the delivery of services as part of the NTER. The boundary changes reduced the overall leased area by more than 50 per cent.

I thank the Valuer-General and his staff for their efforts to determine the amount of rent to be paid. The Valuer-General conducted research, site visits and extensive consultations with the Northern, Central and Tiwi Land Councils to determine the appropriate rent.

The Government will continue to pursue whole of township and long-term housing leases with land owners across the Northern Territory to support housing investment and to create the best possible platform for service delivery and economic development.