Native Title discussion paper released
Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin today released a Native Title discussion paper that examines options for improving the Native Title system to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The discussion paper canvasses legislative and non-legislative proposals to make better use of payments to Aboriginal communities under mining and infrastructure agreements. These include specific ideas for making agreements more effective and sustainable, and more general options regarding the role of Government and the resources industry.
Mr McClelland said that all parties needed to take a more flexible approach in native title negotiations.
“The Native Title system has been hampered for too long by an overly legalistic approach.”
“We need a more flexible system including improving native title agreements to ensure potential benefits flow through to present and future generations of Indigenous Australians.”
Ms Macklin said that native title is critical to Indigenous economic development.
“Properly structured property rights to land should be key for expanding commercial and economic opportunities in Indigenous communities.
“The Government wants to find ways to harness the economic benefits to native title for the long-term benefit of communities and generations of Indigenous communities.”
More than 60 per cent of mineral operations in Australia neighbour Indigenous communities. This provides an important opportunity for governments, industry and traditional owners to address entrenched economic and social disadvantage suffered by Indigenous Australians.
The release of the discussion paper coincides with the publication of a report conducted by the Government’s Native Title Payments Working Group.
The Working Group, comprised of experts from the Indigenous community, mining industry, academia and the legal profession, has made important recommendations on how native title payments can be better harnessed to support Indigenous Australians.
The Native Title Working Group report, the discussion paper, and information on how to make submissions and comments on the discussion paper are available at Attorney-General’s Department and Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.