Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Northern Territory Indigenous now free to choose

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 which was passed today will provide more choice and opportunity for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

"These amendments modernise the Land Rights Act to allow Aboriginal people to realise the economic potential of their land," Mr Brough said.

"Economic opportunities for Aboriginal people will be increased by a new streamlined procedure for exploration and mining on Aboriginal land. Land Councils will be funded on their performance and outcomes.

"The new 99 year township lease scheme originally put forward by the Northern Territory Government opens the door for home ownership and business development on Aboriginal land.

"If traditional owners wish to, they can give individual property rights to other Aboriginal community residents. The leasing arrangements will ensure that traditional owners are paid appropriately for the use of their land.

"This is about opportunity and choice and enables Aboriginal communities to operate like normal Australian towns.

"Leasing provisions are voluntary and traditional owners will decide whether or not to lease township land or any other land and the conditions of any leases.

"Importantly the reforms do not alter the fundamental principles of inalienability, communal title and the traditional owner right to veto.

"There have been nine years of discussion and consultation with stakeholders and three reviews. The details of the changes were announced in October and November last year and the Bill was before the Parliament for over two months.

"Unlocking the economic potential of Aboriginal land will benefit all Territorians." Mr Brough said.