Labor will strengthen native title protections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians when the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreement) Bill returns to the Parliament.

The McGlade decision in the Federal Court last month has the potential to invalidate current Indigenous Land Use Agreements and has thrown the future of native title into uncertainty.

It is incumbent upon the Parliament to give native title holders certainty for the future, while also protecting the integrity of the native title system.

The Government tried to rush its original legislation through the Parliament before there was an opportunity to properly consider its implications, or to listen to the views of native title holders and relevant organisations.

The Government’s original legislation includes provisions which would have given it unfettered powers over Indigenous Land Use Agreements.

Labor strongly opposed these changes, as well as the rushed process. We insisted on a Senate Inquiry so native title holders and other stakeholders could tell us what it was that they wanted.

Labor’s work in the Senate Committee has delivered important changes to the legislation.

This means that agreements already entered into will be restored to the position they were in prior to the Federal Court decision.

It also means that the Government cannot give itself unfettered power over native title. We are ensuring that control rests with native title holders, and not politicians in Canberra.

Government Senators supported the Senate Committee’s recommendations, so we expect the Government to support these changes when it comes before the Parliament again.

Labor has taken a cautious and responsible approach to this complex issue. In the short time we had, we listened to all native title holders and we thank them for their strong advocacy and insight in assisting us to reach this decision.


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