Australian Government amends Native Title Act

Australian Parliament has passed the Native Title Legislation Amendment Act 2020, which allows a native title to impose conditions for land use agreements.

The native title amendment has been in the works for three years, to ensure a practical and stable native title system for First Nations people.

The mining industry worked alongside the Attorney-General Department to create transparent and new section 31 agreements to clear up the native title legislation process.

A section 31 agreement concerns the grant of mining and exploration rights over land that may be subject to native title.

Prior to the amendment, there was uncertainty surrounding certain section 31 agreements that prompted an overhaul of the bill.

These included maintaining public records of section 31 agreements and dispute resolutions in court regarding who is entitled for compensation if the bill affects acquisition of land or property.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) stated that the mining industry acknowledged the approach taken by the Australian Government’s Attorney-General Department and the National Indigenous Australians Agency in this reform.

This includes establishing a technical advisory group of experts to amend the extensive consultation process.

“First Nations landholders and communities are a core partner for the minerals industry,” MCA chief executive Tania Constable said.

“The Act provides stability for industry by addressing uncertainty relating to certain section 31 agreements.

“This process included extensive input from First Nations organisations across the two public consultation phases and parliamentary committee inquiry into the bill.”

According to the Attorney-General Department, the new native title system will make it easier to resolve claims pertaining to recognition of native titles.

Under the new act, the status of native title has been determined to cover 42.3 per cent of Australia’s land mass, with another 22.3 per cent subject to a native title claim.

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