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Senate disallowance of regulations welcomed

Posted: Mon, March 24, 2014

Senate Chamber at Parliament House, Canberra

NORTHERN Land Council (NLC) Chief Executive, Joe Morrison, described the response of the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, to last Thursday’s Senate disallowance of Government regulations as “ideological”, “irresponsible”, and “disingenuous”.

The regulation was tabled last December under s 28A of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (inserted by amendment in 2006), and the scheme aims to destroy Land Councils by requiring that they devolve their leasing functions (including for township leases) to ‘delegate’ Aboriginal corporations.

“This is a victory for common sense,” Mr Morrison said.

“Minister Scullion has abjectly failed to respond to grave concerns from all Land Councils that the scheme is unworkable because it will foster intra-community disputes, conflict and potential litigation.”

“The Minister has also failed to respond to serious unforeseen consequences whereby Land Councils remain financially liable for any wrongful actions by ‘delegate’ Aboriginal corporations, but cannot reverse that wrongful action, and are not covered by the Commonwealth’s insurer, Comcover, for that liability.

“And, unlike Land Councils, ‘delegate’ Aboriginal corporations are not subject to Commonwealth probity and accountability requirements, and are susceptible to division and external influence.

“Minister Scullion’s vow that he will ‘push ahead’ regardless is ideological, his refusal to address financial consequences is irresponsible, and his claim that the NLC failed to respond to an application by an Aboriginal corporation in August 2010 is disingenuous.

“Minister Scullion is well aware that that application was subsumed by a contemporaneous proposal to establish the Katherine Regional Land Council which was roundly rejected by the former Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, in 2013.”

“The NLC formally acknowledged the application in October 2010, but has received no further communications from the corporation regarding it since the date of lodgement.

“The NLC looks forward to working closely with the Prime Minister and his Government regarding symbolic and practical matters, including Constitutional recognition, improved educational outcomes, law enforcement in communities, and actual employment.”