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NT Shelter E-Newsletter



NT Shelter E-Newsletter


NT Shelter Inc


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Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Public housing; Periodicals

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NT Shelter Inc

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e-Newesletter, August 2010

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NT Shelter Inc



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Everyone is talking about leasing in Aboriginal communi es in Central Australia. This is unsurprising given the security of tenure policy, which is supported by both poli cal par es, has resulted in a rush of lease applica ons. Perhaps the housing leases (see below) are of greatest interest to readers of this newsle er however the whole issue of leasing on Aboriginal land has to be looked at in context. One of the challenges that the Central Land Council has faced over the last two years has been in explaining to Aboriginal landowners why, a er over 30 years of land rights, the Commonwealth government is suddenly so passionate about leases. While leases have always been available under the Land Rights Act, neither the Commonwealth nor Northern Territory Governments bothered much with them un l 2007. Long before the Interven on and the secure tenure policy, Aboriginal landowners were gran ng leases for things such as houses, offi ces, roads, educa on facili es, communica on infrastructure etc to organisa ons, service providers, commercial enterprises and others who put in an applica on and were willing to nego ate an acceptable deal. The basic rule of thumb is that Aboriginal landowners have been happy to grant leases provided that the purpose is reasonable and the terms of the lease are fair. The CLCs role is to receive the applica ons and then consult with the aff ected community and relevant tradi onal owners. If a deal can be struck, the CLC lawyers draw up an appropriate lease. This type of leasing is generally uncontroversial and is going on all around the CLC region, inside and outside of communi es. However, since the Interven on, communi es have had to contend with quite diff erent types of leasing with far reaching implica ons. The three types of leases that have been highly controversial in the CLC region are: 1. Five Year Leases: This is a statutory lease that was taken by the Commonwealth from Aboriginal landowners without their consent during the Interven on. Thirty-one communi es in the CLC region are covered by Five year leases and in those communi es the Commonwealth enjoys exclusive control un l 2012. The Aboriginal landowners in the CLC region have consistently opposed the Five Year Leases. Because the Commonwealth compulsorily acquired these leases it is required, by the Australian Cons tu on, to pay just terms compensa on. At this stage the Commonwealth has off ered a rent payment that does not accord with independent valua ons received by the CLC. Since the Interven on, the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments have erected staff housing within the Five Year Lease communi es but have been unwilling to build houses for Aboriginal residents. They argue that indigenous housing cannot be built without greater security of tenure. 2. Whole of Community Leases (Township Leases): The Commonwealth asked Yuendumu, Lajamanu and Hermannsburg to consider gran ng a lease over their en re communi es for 80-99 years. In return the Commonwealth off ered to pay $2M to Aboriginal landowners and $2M to the community. This proposal was rejected in all three communi es. Aboriginal landowners and residents did not want to hand control of their communi es over to the Commonwealth and incidentally thought the money being off ered for such a long term lease was ludicrously low. 3. Housing Lease: The Commonwealth has off ered SIHIP funding to build new houses in Yuendumu, Lajamanu and Hermannsburg (no other community in the en re CLC region has been given funding for new houses for Aboriginal residents). However, the Commonwealth said that it would not start building the new houses un l it had been granted a 40 year housing lease. The housing lease extends over all exis ng Aboriginal housing in a community and over addi onal land on which to new houses can be built. The Commonwealth will not pay rent for this lease because they want to spend the money on new housing. The Commonwealths housing lease proposal was considered blackmail and met with resistance in the three communi es. However, given the desperate need for housing in those communi es, the Aboriginal landowners and communi es have con nued to nego ate. Recently Aboriginal landowners consented to gran ng a housing lease in Hermannsburg. A fi nal decision on whether or not to grant the housing lease in Lajamanu is expected in the coming weeks. Nego a ons regarding the housing lease in Yuendumu are con nuing. The next me you listen to a government offi cial waxing lyrical about the recalcitrance of Aboriginal landowners when it comes to gran ng long term leases to government, you should ask them: Are you off ering Aboriginal landowners a fair deal? Is it reasonable for government to expect to nego ate voluntary leases while retaining the highly unpopular compulsorily acquired Five Year Leases? For any further info please contact Virginia Newell Coordinator - Leasing Legal Sec on, Central Land Council Leasing on Aboriginal land in the CLC Region 9