Legislation passed today in Parliament will enable the granting of more areas of Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory and unlock economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities in the Top End.
Under changes made to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the Australian Government has enabled the grant of more than 973,000 hectares of land in the Northern Territory as Aboriginal land.
“The Australian Government made a clear commitment to prioritise efforts to resolve outstanding land claims at the last election,” Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said.
“We have kept our word. This Government has provide additional resources to progressing land claims for the benefit of Indigenous Australians. To date, almost 50 per cent of the Northern Territory land mass has been granted as Aboriginal land. Across Australia, native title claims have been finalised over approximately 35 per cent of land.
“We have provided additional resources to the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Land Councils and local stakeholders to support this work that will ensure traditional owners are recognised as the owners of their land.
“I also acknowledge the work of the Northern Land Council in progressing these land claims and the ongoing aspirations and effort from the traditional owners of the land.”
Minister Scullion said the Government had also taken steps to ensure Indigenous Australians are able to access the full scale of opportunities and benefits attached to land ownership.
“Aboriginal land offers innovative opportunities for economic benefit,” Minister Scullion said. “We want traditional owners to realise the full potential of their land.
“We are working with traditional owners on township leases, held by communities, in the Northern Territory. And we are investing record amounts in support for land tenure reforms as part of our commitment to develop northern Australia because we recognise the opportunity and potential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have to be part of this agenda.
The legislation enables the grant of four land claims in the Kakadu region as Aboriginal land and provides for the leaseback of that land to the Director of National Parks. The legislation also enables the grant of Aboriginal land to resolve the Urapunga Township native title application and the Anthony Lagoon Area Land Claim.