Need for more hard work on native title

Australian Financial Review

8 June 2012

Last week Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced four "incremental" changes to the native title system, including that the government would put obligations to negotiate native title agreements in good faith into statute. Ms Roxon also announced plans to make voluntary Indigenous Land Use Agreements "more flexible" so a "wider range of topics will be able to be negotiated on between indigenous groups and land rights holders". 

Partner Ewan Vickery, who has advised on native title issues since 1992, told the AFR that the planned reforms to native title will have little significant effect on the vast majority of cases or the backlog of unresolved claims.  The good faith changes are "no big deal" given that most parties already abided by their good faith obligations, and ILUAs are already extremely flexible.

There have been 141 native title determinations since 1994, covering 17 per cent of Australia, but 440 claims are unresolved, including a remnant of the Wik people's claim from 18 years ago, he said.