The Turnbull Government is today releasing an options paper considering how the native title system could be improved to better support all stakeholders involved with native title.
The options paper considers reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) to make the native title system operate more effectively for all Australians. It includes recommendations from a range of reviews, including the:
- Australian Law Reform Commission’s report on Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth),
- Council of Australian Government’s Investigation into Land Administration and Use, and
- Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations’ Technical Review of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006.
In developing the options paper, the Government has engaged extensively with key stakeholders, including the states and territories at a Native Title Ministers’ Meeting on 13 October this year.
The paper considers how native title holders could be given greater autonomy to resolve claims more simply by providing claim groups with greater authority to make decisions, and more options to resolve internal disputes.
The paper also contains a number of proposals designed to improve the operation of Indigenous representative bodies which play a vital role in representing native title holders.
While claims resolution continues to be a priority for the Government, as more claims are determined, the focus of the system must shift to how native title holders can make agreements with other parties and resolve disputes. That is why a number of the proposals relate to reducing the regulatory burden and cost of the process so that native title holders have greater flexibility in making decisions about their land and water.
The Government is committed to wide consultation on native title reform and stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback on the options paper by 25 January 2018. This feedback will contribute to the development of an exposure draft of legislation, which the Government expects to release in the first half of next year.
These proposals are further evidence of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to improving the native title system. In June, the Government successfully passed in Parliament key changes to the Act, restoring certainty to the native title system following the McGlade decision.
The options paper and more information on native title reform are available at ag.gov.au/Consultations.