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Land Councils conclude talks in Canberra

Posted: Wed, February 12, 2014

IN CANBERRA: PM Tony Abbott with (from left) NLC Executive Members Bill Risk, Leonard Norman, Samuel Bush-Blanashi and NLC CEO Joe Morrison.

THE executives of the Northern and Central Land Councils have concluded three days of talks in Canberra with federal politicians and officials, and have argued for protection of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

The concerns of both land councils focused on federal government plans to permanently devolve their powers to smaller Aboriginal corporations which might not be democratic or accountable to Traditional Owners, and to create 99-year township leases which would be held by a Commonwealth official.

The land councils want the authority over any leases to remain with the traditional owners.

Meetings were held with Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, and Labor and Greens members.

The land councils also met with Warren Mundine, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council, and welcomed his commitment to work closely with them as elected representatives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

Executive members were among guests hosted by the Prime Minister after his delivery of the latest Closing The Gap report.

The land councils will hold the government to account for its pledge to improve targets, and call on the government to back up its targets with funding commitments.

The executives also met with the National Congress and supported its endeavours to achieve a secure future after the federal government cut its funding.