28/04/2008 - 09:24

Call for review of Native Title Act

28/04/2008 - 09:24

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National Native Title Council Chairman, Brian Wyatt, said that last week's Noongar Native Title Decision demonstrates the deficiencies and unworkability of the Native Title Act.

Call for review of Native Title Act

National Native Title Council Chairman, Brian Wyatt, said that last week's Noongar Native Title Decision demonstrates the deficiencies and unworkability of the Native Title Act.

"It's time that the Government had a serious look at amending the Act to ensure the rights of Indigenous people are upheld in these matters.

"The original spirit of the Act was the principle that the recognition of Indigenous peoples' ongoing connection with their land should be resolved by negotiation and mediation - not to be bogged down in the Courts where noone ends up a winner.

"The Labor Government has an opportunity to resolve these issues and really focus on better ways of using taxpayer's money in native title. That means sitting down and talking with Traditional Owners to negotiate for economic and cultural benefits for their communities", said Mr Wyatt.

The National Native Title Council has welcomed the recent announcement by the Federal Attorney General to adopt new attitudes and new ways of thinking about native title.

The Noongar decision really shows that we need to rethink the current process and come up with better ways of doing business. The Attorney General has opened the door to having a genuine look at how we can make the system work.

The NNTC is calling on the Government to consider practical ways of resolving native title that can deliver economic, cultural, and environmental benefits for Indigenous people and the Federal Attorney General's desire to negotiate rather than litigate is a way of ensuring this happens.

"Native Title should form the basis of a new relationship with the Commonwealth Government that gives Indigenous people a central role in developing Australia as a nation", Mr Wyatt said.

"This is what Native Title Representative Bodies have been calling on for a long time. And together with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the rights of traditional owners can no longer be ignored", Mr Wyatt said.

"The Declaration upholds principles for negotiation that ensures Indigenous people can make informed decisions on the development of their traditional lands and can negotiate agreements for real economic benefits.

"The NNTC will work with the Government to develop better solutions and standards for the native title system. It's a positive step that will result in positive change."

Mr Wyatt is currently attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York where he will present a paper on the future work of implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

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