Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Discussion paper on expediting Indigenous housing in remote communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney General

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin and Attorney General Robert McClelland today released a discussion paper on possible amendments to the Native Title Act (Native Title Act 1993) aimed at speeding up public housing construction and infrastructure in remote Indigenous communities.

The Australian Government is determined to ensure that Indigenous communities can benefit as quickly as possible from the Council of Australian Governments’ historic $5.5 billion housing and infrastructure investment.

Uncertainty about native title processes can mean protracted delays in government programs to deliver housing and infrastructure to Indigenous communities.

Currently there is no specific native title process for progressing housing and infrastructure development that benefits Indigenous communities. This uncertainty in the Act is creating delays.

The discussion paper and scheduled consultation meetings will explore options to streamline and improve the relevant provisions of the Act to allow much-needed public housing and infrastructure to be delivered in remote Indigenous communities as quickly as possible.

The discussion paper proposes a specific process to ensure that public housing and infrastructure in remote Indigenous communities can be built expeditiously following consultation with native title parties, without adversely impacting any native title rights.

The proposals raised in the discussion paper protect underlying native title. Native title would not be extinguished, and existing heritage protection laws would continue to apply.

The new process could speed up a range of projects in Indigenous communities including public housing, medical clinics, schools and police stations, street lighting, water supply and electricity distribution.

The process would not cover commercial investments.

Consultation with native title holders and community residents would be required.

The new process could be used to progress projects benefiting remote Indigenous communities, including locations covered by the National Partnership on Remote Service Delivery.

The new process would provide parties with an alternative way to assist in the timely supply of public housing and infrastructure in Indigenous communities.

The Australian Government is determined to improve housing conditions and service delivery in remote communities while ensuring that any native title rights and interests are protected.

The Australian Government has allocated the largest ever investment in remote Indigenous housing.

The Government is determined to fundamentally improve the delivery of housing in remote Indigenous communities through major reforms.

The discussion paper, details of public information sessions and information on how to make submissions and comments are available at Land & Native Title.

Submissions and comments are due to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs by Friday 4 September 2009.