The Coalition Government is today announcing a significant reform in our country’s Indigenous land rights and economic empowerment journey with a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said the Government would be introducing legislation to transfer management of the current $2 billion Land Account, which funds the Indigenous Land Corporation’s (ILC) land acquisition program, to the Future Fund and expand the remit of the ILC to support economic development on sea country.
“The original Land Account was set up following the Mabo (No 2) decision to assist those whose native title had been extinguished, by providing an annual dividend to the ILC to acquire and manage land on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” Minister Scullion said.
“Unfortunately, it was set up with scant disregard for its long term sustainability and has been plagued with low rates of return – meaning lost opportunities for the Indigenous Estate.
“The reforms the Coalition Government will be introducing will also address the current legislative impediments for the ILC to invest in activities on freshwater and sea country. This will support economic opportunities that exist over freshwater and sea country that were not contemplated when the ILC was established and will complement the Coalition Government’s $20 million fund to support economic development opportunities for native title holders of sea and freshwater country.
“I am pleased to have worked in partnership with the ILC to pursue these reforms which have been recommended following consultations around the country with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“As a Government we have listened to the views of communities and we are putting into practical effect the Prime Minister’s commitment of doing things with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, not to them.
“As Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund invests for the benefit of generations and with these community-led reforms the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund will be up to $1.5 billion better off over 20 years, compared to current investment parameters.
“Our reform will see the Future Fund Board of Guardians invest funds from the Land Account to make it a truly perpetual for the benefit of future generations of First Australians.
“Decisions about the operations and investments of the ILC will remain a matter for the independent ILC Board.”
ILC Chair, Mr Eddie Fry, a Dagoman-Wardaman man from the Katherine region in the Northern Territory said that he is pleased to have worked with Minister Scullion to deliver the most significant reforms to the ILC since it was established.
“These reforms will give the ILC the legislative power and financial sustainability to continue to deliver economic, cultural and environmental benefits for First Australians into the future.