Native title body calls for future fund as PBCs get budget sugar hit

Article by Jarrod Cross for National Indigenous Times

Concerns have been raised over funding allocated to the prescribed body corporates sector, as a key representative council questions its longevity and financial security.

The Federal Government will provide $37.5 million to facilitate PBC’s in supporting Native Title holders to partner with industry, generate revenue and improve economic benefit from their land.

The increased investment follows a set recommendations delivered to Environment Minister Sussan Ley, detailing best practice in managing national parks.

It included a recommendation to engage Traditional Owners in exploring options for creating financial self-sufficiency though cultural and environmentally sensitive measures.

The senior advisory group behind the review identified visitation as a key revenue stream for PBC’s and Traditional Owners hoping to take sole management responsibility of their parks.

In a statement on Thursday, the National Native Title Council said the guarantee of ongoing funding remained priority for realising self-determination.

“It is great to have investment in governance and training, however funding is also required for both compliance and staffing for PBCs to fulfil their native title rights and aspirations, and to ensure sector sustainability,” NNTC chairman Kado Muir said.

“PBCs have particularly complex functions and obligations.

“Not only through local Indigenous systems of law, but also non-Indigenous legislation including the Net Tangible Assets, PBC Regulations and The Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act.”

The NNTC said the Commonwealth had an obligation to fund the sectors long-term security, as Native Title holders were forced to use PBC’s to maintain rights and interests over their land.

NNTC chief executive and Gundjitmara-Djabwurrung man Jamie Lowe said a guaranteed PBC future-fund would result in a range of benefits for First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

“This includes directly improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the native title system including industry agreements,” Mr Lowe said.

“From buffering small PBC susceptibility to the damaging cycle of erratic income variations, to having flow on economic effects that will help to develop strong and resilient regional and transitioning Australian economies.”

The current increase in PBC funding will extend over the next four years.

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