Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

High Court decision on NT five-year leases

In Canberra today, the High Court ruled the five-year leases, acquired as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) over Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT), are valid.

The Government will carefully examine the decision.

We understand that people feel very strongly about this issue and reactions to the High Court decision will vary.

In October 2008, the Government requested the NT Valuer-General to determine appropriate rents to the owners of land subject to the compulsory acquisition of five-year leases under the NTER.

Once determined, the Australian Government will immediately commence payment. This is expected to be finalised over the coming months.

We are also examining the scope to reduce the current boundaries of five-year leases, where they are larger than required to deliver Australian Government services.

Labor has consistently advocated for the payment of ‘just terms’ compensation to traditional owners for five-year leases.

The Australian Government is negotiating long-term leases for public housing on Aboriginal land in the NT.

Security of tenure is key to progressing the Australian Government’s substantial housing investment, including a $547 million investment in new housing, housing upgrades and tenancy arrangements in the NT.

The Government is committed to making inroads on closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Housing and secure tenure are key to moving forward with this agenda.