Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

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Parliamentary Record 14


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 February 1999 they are operative. The Commonwealth ministers determination is subject to disallowance by either House of federal parliament. Alternative provision areas include: land that is, or once was, covered by a lease that does not extinguish native title. The Federal Court has recently determined that native title can co-exist with Northern Territory pastoral leases. Should this determination survive appeal almost all of the Territory not currently held as Aboriginal land, or under claim under the Land Rights Act, will fall within the definition of alternative provision area. an area that is, or was, held under Crown reserve for public or particular purpose and is being used for that purpose; and for the purpose of granting mining interests, land within a town or city. The alternative provisions are only applicable when the right to negotiate procedures would have otherwise applied. The right to negotiate does not apply in respect of either the following types of land dealings or in respect of the following types of land: acquisitions for government purposes; acquisitions for infrastructure facilities; acquisitions within towns and cities; activities below the high water mark; mineral exploration where there is an approved exploration scheme; and certain renewals or extensions of mining interests. In regard to land dealings where the right to negotiate does not apply, the Native Title Act specifies what procedural rights the laws of a territory or state are to provide native title parties. In most cases the requirement is that native title holders or claimants are to be given the same procedural rights as if they had held freehold title to the affected land. Amendments have already been made to Territory laws to meet these new requirements. The Northern Territory has sought alternative provision determinations from the Commonwealth in regard to schemes that it has set up under the Lands Acquisition Act, the Mining Act and the Petroleum Act. Before making the determinations, the Commonwealth Attorney-General has come to an initial view that on their face the schemes comply with Native Title Act requirements. Following that, it is then necessary to notify the representative bodies of his proposed determination, invite submissions from them and consider any submissions received in response to the invitation. In the Northern Territory, the representative bodies are the Land Councils. This consultation process has now commenced. Prior to notifying the representative bodies, the Commonwealth sought a number of amendments to the Territory schemes. It is noted that the determination of whether the Territory schemes comply with the Native Title Act requirements is subjectively assessed on the basis of the opinion of the Commonwealth minister. After considering the issues raised by the Commonwealth and following subsequent discussions, the Territory agreed to introduce the bill currently before the House. A detailed explanatory memorandum explaining the proposed amendments is available. Most of the bill is concerned with what procedures are to apply to land transactions which are commenced in the transitional period, that is, the period between 30 September 1998 when amendments to the relevant part of the Native Title Act commenced up until the time when an alternative provision determination is made. The enacted Territory scheme currently provides three options for dealing with matters commenced in this transitional period once alternative provisions are operative. At the option of the relevant Territory minister, the matter can either continue to be dealt with under the right to negotiate procedures or it can be discontinued and started afresh under the new Territory provisions or, under a hybrid arrangement, a partly dealt with matter can be transferred into the Territory consultation process. The Commonwealth was concerned these provisions may disadvantage claimants since they would not know at the start of the process what proceedings would ultimately be used to deal with the application. Given that the Territory currently has no outstanding right to negotiate applications, the amendments contained in the bill which provide that all matters commenced in the transitional period remain with the right to negotiate process even after alternative provisions have been approved, are unlikely to have any significant effect on the Territory. With the possible exception of the amendments in the Lands Acquisition Act which clarify when compensation matters can be referred to the Lands 2831