Native Title Amendment Bill

October 23, 2012

The Native Title Amendment Bill 2012 proposes a number of amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 but falls short of what is required to remedy significant shortcomings in Australia’s treatment of Indigenous peoples’ rights in relation to their traditional and ancestral lands.  This is a particularly important human rights issue given Australia’s commitments under the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the notion that native title rights provide an interface between a human rights discourse and the current ubiquity of the mining industry.

Whilst the proposed changes in the draft Bill seek to clarify the requirement to negotiate in ‘good faith’, the right to negotiate procedure requires significant strengthening to ensure there is some incentive on proponents to engage in substantive negotiations prior to proceeding to arbitration.

Proposed changes to allow parties to agree to disregard historical extinguishment of native title in areas such as parks and reserves should be expanded and proposed changes to reduce the window of time available to object to Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) should be amended if not abandoned.