Legislation update

Native Title – legislation update 

By Jonathan Fulcher / 13 November 2020
2 min.
Worthwhile read for: Mining industry practitioners

On 17 October 2019, the Hon Christian Porter MP introduced the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (the Bill) to the House of Representatives. The Bill proposes to amend the Native Title Act 1993 (NT Act) and Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) to, among other things, confirm the validity of section 31 agreements potentially affected by the full Federal Court's decision in McGlade v Native Title Registrar & Ors FCAFC 10.

In a previous article, we noted the Bill had been referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, which reported its recommendations on 19 August 2020. For an overview of the Bill, please refer to our previous article

The Bill was expedited through the House of Representatives on 10 November 2020, notably during NAIDOC week and just over a year since it was first tabled. The Bill remains largely unchanged from when it was introduced in October 2019, with only the following minor amendments:

  1. Requirement for an evaluation

The purpose of this amendment is to require that an evaluation be conducted within five years of the Bill’s commencement to ensure the Bill is achieving its objectives. The scope of the evaluation would be broad and allow consideration of the practical operation of the amendments and its effects. 

  1. Expedited procedure objection inquiry 

The original amendment to the NT Act initially proposed by the Bill was that only native title parties who object to a low-impact future act, attracting an expedited procedure process, would be party to the relevant inquiry. 

This new amendment clarifies that if a registered native title claimant lodges an objection to the use of an expedited procedure and is later succeeded by a registered native title body corporate (RNTBC) because of an approved determination of native title, the RNTBC would become a party to the inquiry in place of the registered claimant. 

Next steps

The Bill is now awaiting debate in the Senate. We will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill and will provide a further update as it progresses. 

If you would like to know more or would like specific advice in relation to how the Bill could impact your business, please contact our Native Title and Cultural Heritage team.

Jonathan Fulcher
Jonathan is a Partner and the head of our leading Resources and Energy practice in Brisbane and is also the leader of our Native Title practice.

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