Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New incentive for long-term benefit from Indigenous royalties

The Australian Government is taking action to encourage Indigenous landowners in the Northern Territory to use significant resource industry payments for the long-term benefit of local communities.

Large financial transfers must be better harnessed to benefit communities.

The Australian Government has approved a lease agreement between the traditional landowners in the north-west region of the NT and the owners of the Bonaparte Gas Pipeline.

Under the Agreement between the company and the landowners, 2500 people making up 19 land owning groups will share in around $10 million over the term of the lease.

To encourage the community to use the pipeline lease payments responsibly, the Government has approached the Northern Land Council, as the representative of the landowners, with a proposal for them to establish an education trust fund.

If the land owners establish an education trust fund for children across the region and allocate at least 90 per cent of the projected benefits into the trust fund, the Australian Government will match them dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $10 million.

The agreement is for a 99 year lease with Eni Australia Limited which is constructing the Bonaparte Pipeline to carry gas from the Blacktip gas processing plant near Wadeye to the Stuart Highway.

This week, I wrote to the NLC with an offer of Government support for the education trust fund.

A fund of around $18 million would provide considerable benefits in perpetuity for parents and children in a region with one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the country.

There are already precedents for this in the NT, with recent agreements between Newmont Asia-Pacific and Warlpiri traditional owners establishing a series of programs under an education trust.

We are determined to make these kinds of agreements more common so that real and sustainable improvement can be achieved for generations of Indigenous children.