Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has delivered on his commitment to empower Aboriginal people with localised decision-making through amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.
This follows the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2015 passing through the Senate today.
“We want Indigenous land owners and community members to play an integral role in fostering economic development in their communities. The changes support Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to make decisions about their own land within commercial timeframes, Minister Scullion said.
“The amendments are a first step in empowering traditional owners to make decisions at the local level by improving existing provisions for corporations to apply to carry out land council functions and powers.
“This will streamline the operations of Land Councils and reap economic benefits for Aboriginal communities by allowing decisions made at a local level in commercial timeframes.”
Minister Scullion said the Bill also allowed the Executive Director of Township Leasing to hold a sublease of Aboriginal land, and to transfer a sublease to an Aboriginal corporation.
“This will facilitate a sublease at Mutitjulu and better support the community to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
“The bill also recognises the ownership of land in the Northern Territory by its traditional owners by scheduling three parcels of land totalling more than 160,000 hectares (in the Simpson Desert, the Wickham River area and the Vernon Islands) and enabling that land to be granted as Aboriginal land.”
Minister Scullion said the Government had secured the support of the Northern Territory land councils for the amendments in line with his commitment not to change the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 without their support.
“I thank the Northern Territory land councils for their support and look forward to working with them to deliver on the changes made today”, Minister Scullion said.
Download media release:
2015-11-26 MR – SCULLION – ALRA.pdf