Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Permit system on Aboriginal land in NT

The permit system currently in place for use of major roads to communities in the Northern Territory (NT) will continue.

For permits to be abolished the legislation requires the Minister to determine by regulation that access on major roads no longer requires a permit.

In line with the Government’s pre-election policy, the Minister will not be making this determination and permits will still be required to travel on almost all roads through Aboriginal land in the NT.

Under the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation, access to common areas of major communities is allowed without a permit from 17 February, 2008.

Legislation will be introduced during the current sitting of Parliament to re-instate the permit system in common areas of major communities.

The legislation will also include provision to allow journalists and government contractors to enter Aboriginal communities without permits, to carry out their work.

People undertaking government business on Aboriginal land, including police and child protection officers, can already enter communities without obtaining a permit. The changes will not restrict any activity of staff involved in the NT Emergency Response.

Private property is a core principle of Australian society. It is important that this is respected in relation to Indigenous land.

There are legitimate concerns that privacy would be compromised by the lifting of the permit system.

Northern Territory police have stated that the permit system does have an important role in policing these communities and keeping out grog and drug runners.