Central Land Council Annual Report 2015-2016


OUTPUT GROUP 3 • economic development & commercial services

OUTPUT GROUP 3 graph

Output 3.1 Land use agreements

The CLC has statutory functions to help traditional owners manage their land and to negotiate, on their behalf, with people wanting to use Aboriginal land.

National Nuclear Waste Repository

On 13 November 2015, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, announced that six sites had been shortlisted for further evaluation and public consultation for a permanent national radioactive waste management facility pursuant to s. 9 of the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (the NRWM Act). One of the six short-listed sites was located on freehold land within the CLC region: the AridGold date farm south of Alice Springs (known as ‘Hale’) was nominated by its non-indigenous owner. This site is adjacent to the Mpwelarre ALT and the Oak Valley and Walkabout Bore outstations, and nearby the Aboriginal communities of Titjikala and Santa Teresa.

As required under NRWM Act the Minister invited people with a right or an interest in nominated land to provide comment by 11 March 2016.

Officials from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIISR) met with staff from the CLC to discuss details of the national nomination process and establish an agreed process for conducting consultations with affected communities. The CLC undertook traditional owner identification and preliminary sacred site identification for the area and arranged a series of meetings for communities and traditional owners.

The community meetings at Oak Valley, Titjikala and Santa Teresa were attended by CLC staff, officials from the DIISR, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and by the owner of AridGold, Mr Tim Mickleham. At the close of meetings the CLC sought instructions and Aboriginal landowners with interests in the nominated AridGold site and community members living in close proximity to the site advised that they were strongly opposed to the nomination. Meeting participants were concerned about:

  • the need to protect the groundwater supplies and the potential for contamination
  • risks of exposure to radioactive material
  • transport of the materials and the potential for accident
  • the lack of a considered plan for the long-term disposal of the intermediate level waste
  • the need to protect country and culture for future generations.

The Titjikala community show their concern about a proposed nuclear waste dump near their community

The Titjikala community show their concern about a proposed nuclear waste dump near their community.

The CLC provided a detailed submission to the Minister in March 2016. On 29 April 2016 the Minister announced that the government had shortlisted only one site – in Barndioota, South Australia – for further consideration as a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. The Hale site is therefor no longer under consideration and the CLC advised traditional owners and community members of this outcome.

Harold Nelson takes the floor during the council meeting in Arlparra

Harold Nelson takes the floor during the council meeting in Arlparra.

Namatjira Drive road swap agreement

On 6 June 2016 the Minister for Indigenous Affairs delivered a deed of grant to the Ltalaltuma Aboriginal Land Trust for the small parcel of land involved in the Namatjira Drive ‘road swap’. The NT Government had sealed and partially realigned the section of Namatjira Drive from Glen Helen through to the section near the turn off to Tnorala (Gosse Bluff). Whilst part of this ‘new’ road section was within the 100–metre-wide road corridor which passes through the Ltalaltuma ALT, the realignment required a swap of land to ensure that the road corridor reflected the actual path of the roadway.

Land use agreements

During 2015–16 the CLC received a reduced number of applications for leases and licences on Aboriginal land. This is because the majority of infrastructure existing within communities is now subject to lease and there has been little development of additional serviced lots. Nevertheless, there continues to be a significant amount of activity required of the CLC as a result of leasing on Aboriginal land.

The CLC met with the traditional Aboriginal landowners of 15 communities to seek instructions concerning the allocation of rent from leases granted by the relevant ALTs pursuant to s.19 of the ALRA. The instructions the CLC received may apply for up to five years. With many leases having been granted for a term of up to 40 years, seeking instructions for the allocation of rent will be an ongoing requirement for CLC operations.

Leasing income that traditional Aboriginal landowners have instructed be applied for the benefit of the community will be incorporated into existing plans and priorities facilitated by the CLC’s Community Development Unit. The CLC, through the Aboriginal Associations Management Centre (AAMC), will manage the distribution of leasing income when instructed that this money be applied for the benefit of the traditional Aboriginal landowners.

In accordance with the terms of the relevant lease agreements, the CLC continues to receive into its Land Use Trust Account rental payments owed to 10 Aboriginal corporations and associations which hold the community living area (CLA) titles. The CLC provides community development and legal assistance to these entities to allow the funds to be used in accordance with their rules for the benefit of the communities.

During 2015–16 the two outstanding community housing leases for Santa Teresa and Engawala were finalised. The Australian Government currently holds 40 year leases over housing in 25 communities on Aboriginal land in the CLC region

During 2015–16 the two outstanding community housing leases for Santa Teresa and Engawala were finalised. The Australian Government currently holds 40 year leases over housing in 25 communities on Aboriginal land in the CLC region.

Australian Government

The Australian Government holds leases over 1,233 lots in 26 communities on Aboriginal land granted under the Land Rights Act or in CLAs throughout the CLC region. This number includes lots leased by the Australian Government for the purpose of providing community housing and delivering services.

During 2015–16 the two outstanding community housing leases for Santa Teresa and Engawala were finalised. The Australian Government currently holds 40-year leases over housing in 25 communities situated on Aboriginal land throughout the CLC region.

The CLC continues to receive reports about the poor quality of community housing on these leases and local surveys indicate that the NT Department of Housing has failed to attend to repairs and maintenance in communities throughout the region in a timely manner as required under the Residential Tenancy Act (the RTA). In 2016 the residents of Santa Teresa and Papunya brought claims under the RTA against the Department of Housing for its failure to repair damage and maintain conditions in their tenants’ homes to a habitable standard. The claims are currently before the NT Civil Administrative Tribunal.

When negotiating the community housing leases, the Australian Government committed to making investments to improve community housing under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH). In an effort to hold the Australian Government accountable for the representations made, the CLC will continue to seek information from the Australian Government about the levels of funding committed and acquitted under NPARIH.

NT Government

The NT Government holds leases over 316 lots in Land Rights Act communities and a further 64 lots in CLAs throughout the CLC region. Consent was granted to the NT Government for leases over a further 12 lots during the year.

The CLC looks forward to the completion of the NT Government’s Remote Indigenous Communities Cadastre Survey Project, which will formalise land boundaries in remote Aboriginal communities and satisfy the requirements under the Planning Act to enable leases to be readily entered into for periods in excess of 12 years. The lack of adequate cadastre in communities has been a significant detriment to land development in the past.

Discussions are progressing with the NT Government to finalise the leasing of airstrips and reticulated services within communities and to ensure the ongoing management and compliance with extant leases.

Local government

There are four regional councils (Central Desert, MacDonnell, Barkly and Victoria Daly) with the responsibility of providing local government services to communities throughout the CLC region.

These regional councils collectively hold land use agreements, including leases and licences, over 206 lots in communities on Aboriginal land in the CLC region. Consultations with traditional Aboriginal landowners and affected communities concerning applications lodged by the regional councils have been a major focus during the period once template agreements were settled with each council. The CLC consults traditional Aboriginal landowners and communities about any outstanding land use application and engages with the councils about the ongoing management of the negotiated land use agreements.

Non-government organisations (NGOs)

NGOs operating in communities, which largely consist of Aboriginal organisations such as art centres and stores, currently hold leases over 202 lots on Aboriginal land throughout the CLC region. These organisations continued to demonstrate a commitment to obtaining secure tenure over assets situated on Aboriginal land through negotiations for land use agreements and the CLC has integrated the few outstanding applications from NGOs into its 2016–17 consultation meeting program.

Applications received: 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016

Lessee / Licensee

CLAs

ALRA communities

Australian Government

0

0

NT Government

3

2

Local government

1

4

Non-government

3

15

The number of applications for a lease and a licence received by the CLC during the period dating 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Consultations conducted: 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016

Lessee / Licensee

CLAs

ALRA communities

Australian Government

0

24

NT Government

20

214

Local government

29

150

Non-government

0

117

The number of consultations conducted by the CLC concerning applications to lease and licence and / or the management of a lease or licence agreement during the period dating 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Consents obtained: 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016

Lessee / Licensee

CLAs

ALRA communities

Australian Government

1

0

NT Government

6

6

Local government

10

33

Non-government

3

29

The number of leases and licences to which consent to the grant has been provided during the period dating 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Total number of current leases and licences

Lessee / Licensee

CLAs

ALRA communities

Australian Government

311

922

NT Government

64

316

Local government

45

161

Non-government

9

193

The total number of current leases and licences held throughout the CLC region as at 30 June 2016.

Pastoral development

The CLC supports traditional Aboriginal landowners in negotiations with proponents seeking grazing licences over Aboriginal-owned land, and provides ongoing monitoring of licence conditions.

Key areas of these negotiations include ensuring that training and employment opportunities are created for traditional owners and residents of remote communities, that grazing levels compatible with cultural and natural resource values are met, and that pastoral infrastructure is developed for the future benefit of traditional owners.

Grazing licences occur on landholdings being developed under the collaborative Indigenous Pastoral Program (IPP) and other areas of Aboriginal land. Typically, they are issued for a term of 5+5 years but may be longer. Grazing licences or sub-leases are also issued to Aboriginal pastoral companies to enable them to operate commercially on Aboriginal-owned land.

The CLC continued to monitor the terms and conditions of the 10 grazing licences / subleases over Aboriginal owned land. Consultations were held with traditional owners associated with the sub-lease to Bluegloss Pty Ltd over Ooratippra Station and the Irrmarne ALT with regards to infrastructure developments and land condition assessment. The CLC also consulted traditional owners with regards to the proposed transfer of a grazing licence on part of the Atnetye ALT and proposed changes to the grazing licence on part of the Haasts Bluff ALT.

This period saw the issuing of one new grazing licence (bringing the total to 11) for the former Atula Station portion of the Atnetye ALT. The CLC provided assistance to this licence holder in order to facilitate the resolution of the remaining cattle from the previous operation. Consultations were also conducted with regards to a grazing licence proposal over a portion of the Angarapa ALT and the Alkwert ALT formerly known as Waite River.

Commercial feral animal harvest

Traditional owner consultations, proponent negotiations and other related actions were undertaken to facilitate the commercial harvest of feral herbivores in Haasts Bluff ALT (712 camels and 189 feral horses removed), Hooker Creek / Central Desert ALTs (two feral horse culls resulting in the removal of a total of 144 animals) and Urrampinyi Iltjiltjarri ALT (a commercial mustering contractor was engaged to remove wild cattle).

Tourism development

The CLC continued to promote its statutory responsibilities and processes with tour operators and potential partners and facilitated a number of matters preparatory to the development of tourism proposals on Aboriginal land. These included traditional owner consultations and negotiations for the Landrover Experience Tour and an ATV Adventure Tours proposal. Larapinta Creative was issued with permits for ongoing commercial use of the Old Ranger Station campsite in Finke Gorge National Park, and the National Indigenous Training Academy for trainees to participate in ongoing tours at Patji.

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