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NLC puts political parties on notice

Posted: Mon, November 23, 2015

TRADITIONAL smoking ceremony ahead of the NLC’s 111th Full Council meeting at Gulkula

AFTER meeting last week at Gulkula in north-east Arnhem Land, the 111th Full Council of the Northern Land Council stated that policy failures of successive governments have left Indigenous people untrusting of interference in their lives.

The push to develop the north without adequate consultation with and engagement of Aboriginal people in planning processes is a stark example of the disrespect and disregard of Aboriginal people who comprise 30 per cent of the Northern Territory population and own 50 per cent of the land mass, 85 per cent of the coastline, and claim Native Title rights and interests over 44 per cent of the remaining land.

The Full Council seeks strong leadership and implementation of important policies affecting Indigenous landowners and residents, including commitments to:

  •  Work positively with the Territory's Aboriginal land councils, to protect the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and to settle all outstanding land claims;
  • Review the Government's approach to accessing the intertidal zones covered by the Blue Mud Bay High Court decision;
  • Protect sacred sites and properly resource the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority to deal with the added work brought about by the push to develop northern Australia;
  • Amend legislation to include a Strategic Indigenous Reserve in all water plans in order to aid Indigenous economic development;
  • Support Indigenous economic development and engage constructively with Indigenous Territorians on all matters relating to northern development;
  • Fund and support Indigenous-controlled health organisations;
  • Adequately fund Indigenous housing programs and return control of housing to communities;
  • Work constructively with the Indigenous community to improve Indigenous education outcomes;
  • Expedite enforcement powers for Indigenous ranger groups;
  • Demonstrate transparency and accountability of monies for Indigenous programs, particularly Commonwealth allocations to overcome Indigenous disadvantage.

Next year (2016) represents significant milestones for Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory:  the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 through Commonwealth Parliament, and the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari.