Leveraging from Property Rights

Key actions:

  • Support efforts of Traditional Owners to achieve recognition of rights in land including properly assisting to accelerate native title resolution
  • Continue to support efforts, such as the Human Rights Commission Round Table on Property Rights
  • In partnership with the Indigenous Native Title Sector, implement measures set out in the Investigation into Indigenous Land Administration and Use (December 2015) with particular focus on removing bureaucratic and legislative barriers
  • In partnership with the Indigenous Native Title Sector develop measures to enable the commercial application of native title rights
  • Support and introduce legislation for an ICDC in the next term of Government

Like any member of Australian society, Traditional Owners seek to prosper from the rights and interests they possess and have aspirations to not only participate in modern economic life, but to be significant contributors to the economy. Native title enables Indigenous participation in Australia’s economy, society and environment for the benefit of all Australians. By translating native title rights and interests into tangible economic and social benefits for their communities, Traditional Owners can achieve far higher levels of economic participation and wealth creation through employment, investment and enterprise development.

Economic development for Traditional Owners and native title groups will be enhanced through the realisation of appropriate land tenure measures. The NNTC believes that there are sufficient mechanisms already in the Native Title Act (1993) to allow for recognised rights in land to provide a foundation of secure land interests that can be leveraged against, and that don’t require extinguishing of the underlying native title. The NNTC is of the view that the main impediment to achieving outcomes is in fact the barriers created by the bureaucratic and legislative mechanisms in various Government jurisdictions. Such barriers also impede Traditional Owners from realising the potential of their land and from taking their place in the economy.

With the current political emphasis on Indigenous economic development, it is also timely for a reconsideration of the impediments placed on Traditional Owners who wish to engage in commercial activity based on their native title rights. This could include engaging in carbon projects, the sustainable harvest of natural resources for commercial purposes or other related activities. The NNTC believes that removing the impediments for this type of activity will have a significant and positive impact on the ability of Traditional Owners to fully and effectively engage in economic development activities.

Negotiations for native title agreements generate benefits as well as opportunities for Indigenous people to access jobs, education and training, to enable their participation in the market and accumulate wealth. Impediments to economic development from the benefits received through native title agreements include the absence of an appropriate vehicle to hold those benefits.

The NNTC, in collaboration with the Minerals Council of Australia, has developed a vehicle designed to more adequately meet the task of holding benefits from native title agreements and support Indigenous business – an Indigenous Communities Development Corporation (ICDC) – that will support the specific needs of Traditional Owners. The creation of an ICDC and the facilitation of Indigenous business should be expanded to ensure people can leverage economic development from property rights.

Governments have continued to invest in Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Service Providers (NTRB/SPs) and this has resulted in a national network of organisations with significant capacity. They are well placed to provide support for claim related activities along with on-going support for native title holders post-settlement, to ensure that native title delivers social and economic benefits for the current and future generation of native title holders.