Annual Report 2010-2011
Output 1.1 Permits
The permit system is authorised by section 73 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) and contained within the Aboriginal Land
Act (NT). The system provides all visitors, workers and researchers with a system of regulated access to Aboriginal land which is administered by the land councils. The Central Land Council offers entry, transit, media (news-of-the-day), mining and special purpose permits.
The Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation amended the system so permits are not required for public areas in main communities. Notwithstanding those amendments, permits to visit Aboriginal land outside community ‘common areas’ are still required.
However, as traditional owners requested, many visitors to communities are still applying for permits to areas where permits are not required, i.e. in public or ‘common areas’, and the CLC has issued 390 entry permits to such areas this year. Visitors apply for permits in communities because they wish to have peace of mind about the consent of the residents, and the CLC appreciates the goodwill shown in this area by members of the public.
Nonetheless, the CLC is concerned that the dilution of the permit system has led to an assumption by the public that they are free to visit Aboriginal land outside communities as well.
Traditional landowners are particularly concerned that uninvited visitors may be responsible for theft of equipment (most commonly solar panels and bore equipment) and damage to sacred sites.
Mereenie Loop Pass
The CLC is currently developing a new Mereenie Loop Pass. These passes are extremely popular with tourists and negotiations are continuing for them to be managed by Tourism Central Australia.
The CLC acted on behalf of traditional owners torespond to unauthorised access by large numbers of people to visit the location of a population of endangered princess parrots in an area of the Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trust.
Extensive negotiations have been undertaken by the CLC with applicants for special purpose permits. These have involved films, races across Aboriginal land, academic research, fauna surveys and private tourist visits. The relevant traditional owners were consulted.