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Land Councils urge Senate support for positive Land Rights Act amendments

Posted: Wed, November 25, 2015

THE Northern and Central Land Councils have welcomed the Federal Government’s willingness to negotiate significant amendments to the provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act which allow some of the land councils’ functions to be delegated to Aboriginal corporations.

The amendments are expected to be debated in the Senate tomorrow (Thursday 26 November), having passed through the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Ahead of the Senate’s consideration, the Northern Territory’s two biggest land councils have advised Senators that the amendments are supported and will ensure that any potential delegation to an Aboriginal corporation is undertaken with traditional owner consent, land council co-operation and due caution.

In March last year, the two land councils successfully lobbied against regulations proposed by Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion which were required in order to facilitate the delegation-of-functions provision. 

“Northern and Central Land Council members are pleased with the government’s change of heart and thank the non-government Senators who last year contributed to this positive outcome by blocking the flawed regulations,” said CLC Director David Ross and NLC Chief Executive Joe Morrison in a joint statement.

“The amendments before the Senate tomorrow are a victory for common sense and for Aboriginal property rights and aspirations across the Northern Territory.

“Minister Scullion considered reintroducing these flawed regulations along the same lines, but this year agreed to consider alternative submissions from the Territory’s land councils.”
 
These negotiations have taken place over the last eight months and have reached a successful conclusion.

As a result, the amendments now to be debated by the Senate correct a significant flaw in the 2006 ALRA amendment process, and will ensure that any potential delegation to an Aboriginal corporation happens with traditional owner consent, land council cooperation and due caution.