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Don’t forget Aboriginal landowners

Posted: Sun, March 02, 2014

THE Northern Land Council has called on government and all other interested parties to place Aboriginal people front and centre in any future planning of the north.

NLC CEO, Joe Morrison, has reiterated calls for traditional owners to be front and centre in the negotiation, planning and implementation of development of the region.

Traditional Owners in the NLC region are major landowners through the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1976) and have significant rights and interests recognised through the Native Title Act (1996). Indigenous people continue to represent enormous economic and social opportunity and market advantage not only for themselves but the nation as a whole.

“We simply cannot develop the region without recognising Indigenous people’s unique interests and desire to be front and centre of northern development,” Mr Morrison said.

“We face a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have development that sustains people, the unique environment and the world’s oldest living culture.”

There have been numerous examinations of the opportunities in the north, the Northern Land & Water Taskforce engaged with Traditional Owners considerably, and then followed up with the Indigenous Experts Forum where Indigenous people across the region had significant input into how the north could be developed.

“We cannot ignore these previous inputs but continue to build on them to ensure that we are closing the gap of disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” Mr Morrison said.

“Only when there is free prior and informed consent will we be able to develop the region and make northern Australia a place all Australians can be proud of.”