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Application to establish a new Aboriginal Land Council in the Northern Territory



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Application to Establish a New Aboriginal Land Council in the Northern Territory

Date: 19/04/2011

An application to establish a new Aboriginal Land Council in the Katherine Region in the Northern Territory has been referred to the Aboriginal Land Commissioner for assessment.

Under the provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, I am required to make a decision on whether or not I support the establishment of this new Land Council.

I have written to the applicants for the proposed Katherine Regional Land Council and advised them of the process I intend to follow in assessing their application.

The Hon Howard Olney AO QC has more than 13 years experience as an Aboriginal Land Commissioner and I have asked him to conduct an inquiry that will assist me in making a decision about the application.

The Commissioner has been asked to consult with stakeholders, make related enquiries and provide me with a report by 31 July 2011.

That report will be made available to the public and interested parties will have an opportunity to provide written submissions regarding the application.

Land Councils have significant statutory responsibilities under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in the Northern Territory.

It is essential that in considering this application, I have access to a rigorous and transparent assessment of the proposal..

If following the Land Commissioner report I decide to support the establishment of the new Land Council, the Land Rights Act requires me to refer the matter to the Australian Electoral Commission to hold a vote of eligible persons in the area of the proposed new Land Council.

If 55 percent of the formal votes cast are in favour of the proposal, I may then proceed to establish a new Land Council.

Anyone wishing to correspond with the Commissioner during the course of his inquiry can write to:

The Hon Howard Olney AO QC Aboriginal Land Commissioner GPO Box 9820 DARWIN NT 0801

The Terms of Reference provided to the Aboriginal Land Commissioner are below.

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference for an enquiry on an application to establish a Katherine Regional Land Council pursuant to s. 21A of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976

1. Investigate and report upon the extent to which the qualifying area of the proposed Katherine Regional Land Council (KRLC) is an appropriate area for the establishment of new Land Council, for the purpose of s. 21B(2)(a) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 ('the Act'). 2. Investigate and report upon the extent to which the proposed Land Council will be

able to satisfactorily perform the functions of a Land Council, for the purpose of s. 21B(2)(b) of the Act. Your report on the capacity of the proposed Land Council to satisfactorily perform these functions should include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following matters:

a. a. any practical issues that may arise in satisfying the relevant provisions of the Act in respect of obtaining the informed consent of the relevant Traditional Owners; and b. any practical issues that may arise in satisfying the statutory functions of a

Land Council in respect of the mining provisions outlined in Part IV of the Act. 3. Investigate and report upon the nature and scope of functional responsibilities that would be transferred from the NLC to the KRLC if the new Land Council was

established. In addition to other matters you may consider relevant, your report should: a. identify the Aboriginal Land Trusts located wholly or partially within the qualifying area of the proposed Land Council;

b. identify any Land Claim areas located wholly or partially within the qualifying area of the proposed Land Council that you have not as yet finally disposed of the purpose of the Act;

c. quantify the number and gross 2009-10 value of income derived from existing land use agreements pertaining to Aboriginal Land Trusts located wholly or partially within the qualifying area of the proposed Land Council; and

d. quantify the 2009-10 value of statutory royalty equivalents paid by the Commonwealth into the Aboriginals Benefit Account, for the purpose of Part VI of the Act, in respect of mining operations located wholly or partially within the qualifying area of the proposed Land Council. 4. Meet with the applicants and invite them to provide additional information in support

of their application to establish a new Land Council, including but not limited to the proposed: a. budget and funding sources for its operations; b. governance arrangements;

c. administrative and service delivery arrangements; and

d. arrangements for the distribution of mining royalties and income to Aboriginal Land Trusts located wholly or partially within the qualifying area. 5. So far as is practical for the purpose of preparing your report, canvass and document the views of other parties with a significant interest in the application, including but

not limited to: a. the existing Land Councils established under the Act; b. incorporated Indigenous organisations operating in the qualifying area; c. the Shire Councils with local government service responsibilities in the

qualifying area of the proposed KRLC; d. relevant industry representative bodies; and e. the Northern Territory Government. 6. Investigate and report upon any other matters you consider relevant to an assessment

of the application to establish the proposed Katherine Regional Land Council. 7. In accordance with s. 60 of the Act, engage persons having suitable qualifications and experience as consultants for the purpose of assisting with your enquiry if you are of the view that such assistance is required. 8. Commence your enquiry no later than 1 May 2011 and provide a report to the

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs no later than 31 July 2011.