The Morrison Government has passed legislation to make practical improvements to the native title system for all parties.
The Native Title Legislation Amendment Act 2020 amends the Native Title Act 1993 and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 to better support the resolution of native title claims and agreement making, and the sustainable management of native title land.
It also ends the uncertainty created by a 2017 Federal Court judgment that casts doubt over the validity of hundreds of what are known as ‘section 31’ agreements, which are negotiated between claimant groups and industry to facilitate land access.
This legislation will provide native title claimants and holders with:
- greater flexibility for native title claim groups to set their internal processes for how their claim is managed;
- improved pathways for dispute resolution following a determination of native title (for example, mediation assistance by the National Native Title Tribunal); and
- increased transparency and accountability for native title corporations, also known as prescribed bodies corporates – the corporations set up to manage native title.
The amendments implement a range of recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and were informed by an extensive consultation process.
This included two stages of public consultation, input from an expert advisory group, and multiple parliamentary committee inquiries.
The passage of this legislation demonstrates the Morrison Government’s commitment to delivering practical solutions that will ensure the native title system continues to meet the evolving needs of all stakeholders.