Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Historic agreement for 99 year lease in NT

“The signing today of an agreement to lease the Tiwi Islands township of Nguiu will pave the way for a new era of opportunity for the local community,” Minister for Families, Community services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said today.

Mr Bough welcomed the signing, which follows an in-principle agreement in May, and takes effect as of today.

The Minister paid tribute to the leadership and courage of the Mantiyupwi people of the Tiwi islands to achieve this milestone.

“They deserve strong praise for their foresight which will provide economic opportunity and independence for future generations,” Mr Brough said.

“This is the first 99 year lease agreement and I’m sure it will pave the way for similar agreements across the Northern Territory where communities want to take control of their own future.

“We are already working towards a similar agreement in Galiwin’ku.

“As a result of this agreement, people in Nguiu will, for the first time be able to strive towards things that most Australians take for granted – the right to own their own home and attract investment for businesses.

The Minister said the agreement did not change the underlying title of the land. Traditional owners still hold the title. Under the agreement, the township of Nguiu is leased for 99 years. The head lease is held by a statutory officer who is empowered to grant sub leases under the terms of the head lease determined by the Traditional Owners.

“The signing of the agreement today followed extensive consultation over almost two years, including the requirement that the Tiwi Land Council satisfy itself that Traditional Owners of Nguiu had been fully consulted and provided their informed consent and that other residents were adequately informed.

Mr Brough said a package of benefits provided by the Australian Government as part of the agreement included construction of 25 new houses at Nguiu, along with a program pf repairs and maintenance and an additional $1 million to be invested in health initiatives.

“People at Nguiu wishing to buy their own home will have access to the Home Ownership on Indigenous Land Program which provides low-interest loans and other assistance to people wanting to buy or build a home,” Mr Brough said.

“The leadership and courage of the Mantiyupwi people to see this agreement through to fruition should serve as an inspiration to other communities and I look forward to many other similar agreements in the future.”