Category: Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) / Community and Society / Mining Industry / Industry / Business, Economics and Finance / Federal Government / Government and Politics

Native Title Act changes stuck amid stand-off between major parties

17:45 UTC+8 May 11, 2017 | Dan Conifer

Native Title Act changes the Government declared urgent in February will not pass Parliament until at least mid-June, amid a stand-off between the major parties.

Key points:

  • Coalition moved to amend native title laws after major deal with WA Government and traditional owners scuttled in court
  • Federal Court ruling threw hundreds of agreements around the country into doubt
  • Coalition proposed legislation that would allow ILUAs to be registered with consent from most claimants

The Coalition moved to amend the law months ago after a court scuttled a major deal between the West Australian Government and traditional owners.

The Federal Court ruling overturned years of established law, throwing doubt over more than 100 agreements nationwide, including one covering Adani's proposed multi-billion-dollar Queensland coal mine.

The decision meant Indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) needed to be signed by all native title claimants before coming into force.

The Coalition proposed legislation that would allow ILUAs to be registered with consent from most claimants.

Since February, the bill has been repeatedly amended, with two revisions coming just this week.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Labor would pass the latest version of the bill.

"Labor has confirmed with the Government our support for the new amendments," he said.

"But through the Government's incompetence, improper consultation and constant changes, it has put roadblocks in the way of a Senate vote today."

Opposition senators joined the Greens and Nick Xenophon Team on Thursday to prevent debate on the bill being brought forward.

"This is a flagrant breach of [Labor's] undertaking to enable the Parliament to deal with the legislation as soon as possible," Attorney-General George Brandis said.

In a statement, an Adani spokesman said Labor leader Bill Shorten had advised the company of the ALP's decision.

"Though the failure for the Senate to pass the amendments today will mean some delays in some early works, the company remains on track to make the crucial financial decisions this month," the company's representative said.

The Upper House next sits on June 13.


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