Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

New housing and economic opportunities for NT Indigenous community

An historic agreement aimed at boosting economic opportunities and allowing home ownership on Aboriginal land was signed today by the Indigenous people of Groote Eylandt, the Australian Government and GEMCO.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough said we can now commence negotiation of a headlease over the Indigenous township of Angurugu.

The people want their town to operate like other Australian towns where people can start businesses or buy houses and be part of the Australian economy.

Land reform in remote Aboriginal townships is a feature of the Government’s commitment to support economic independence for Aboriginal Australians. If traditional owners agree, leasing the township will provide commercial opportunities and help solve their housing shortage problem.

Mr Brough said that the people of Groote Eyland have a strong interest in economic development.

"I am not surprised that they are one of the first communities to head down this path," he said.

Parties to the agreement will now work towards a township headlease over Angurugu by the end of March 2007.

"The Aboriginal people and GEMCO have an excellent relationship," Mr Brough said. "The agreement will ensure that more jobs at GEMCO go to Aboriginal people and that more business opportunities are realised."

Parties to the Agreement include the Anindilyakwa Land Council, the local governments, Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Enterprises, mining company GEMCO and the Australian Government.