Central Land Council Annual Report 2016-2017


OUTPUT GROUP 3 • economic development & commercial services

OUTPUT GROUP 3 chart

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.

Northern Gas Pipeline

On 17 November 2015 the Northern Territory government announced that it had selected Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline Pty Ltd to construct, own and operate the North East Interconnector Gas Pipeline, now known as the Northern Gas Pipeline. Jemena is 60 per cent owned by the State Grid Corporation of China and 40 per cent owned by Singapore Power International Pte Ltd.

The proposed high-pressure 12-inch steel underground pipeline will connect the Amadeus–Darwin Gas Pipeline in the NT to the Carpentaria Gas Pipeline in Queensland and links gas production in the NT to markets in the east of Australia. It will be 622 kilometres long, running from Warrego near Tennant Creek to Mount Isa in Queensland.

As the pipeline route crosses the boundaries of both land councils, the CLC and NLC worked collaboratively to consult landowners and negotiate sacred site protection, cultural monitoring, employment and contracting, financial compensation and other benefits.

The pipeline route also crosses freehold land held by the Arruwurra Aboriginal Corporation, which sought alternative representation in relation to that portion of the pipeline. 
The CLC and the NLC convened three large meetings for all affected Aboriginal groups together in Tennant Creek on 10 March, 27 July and 29 September 2016.

Figure 9. Northern Gas Pipeline project area

Figure 9. Northern Gas Pipeline project area

At the outset the land councils were instructed to start negotiations with Jemena over both Aboriginal land and all other tenures with native title rights and to report back to traditional owners when negotiations were complete. These consultations and negotiations represented a major deployment of resources for the land councils and involved more than a dozen staff for more than 12 months.

The land councils obtained independent economic advice and produced draft agreements for site and environmental protections, compensation, employment and works contracting provisions for negotiations.

In early September 2016 the land councils convened meetings with small groups of traditional owners to present Jemena’s proposals, the pipeline route and its impacts, and potential compensation and benefits offered. Traditional owners asked questions and discussed the issues in family groups. The CLC held more than a dozen of these smaller consultations with the Pirrtangu, Purrurtu, Kurtinja, Kankawalla, Kanturrpa, Yurtiminyi, Purrukwarra, and Arruwarra groups.

The outcomes were reported to a combined meeting attended by approximately 200 people, with all of the affected Aboriginal groups represented, on 28 September at the Tennant Creek Show Grounds

Following the meeting the CLC held further discussions with Jemena and obtained improved terms. It confirmed that traditional owners consented to the agreements being entered into by the Warumungu and Wakaya ALTs and by affected native title holders.

The CLC executive committee considered the outcomes of the group consultations and the terms and conditions and directed the CLC to enter into the proposed pipeline route agreements in December 2016.

The final documentation for the project included:

• Pipeline Benefits and Impacts Agreement

• Warumungu Aboriginal Land Trust Section 19 Deed

• Wakaya Aboriginal Land Trust Section 19 Deed

• Phillip Creek pastoral lease ILUA

• Tennant Creek pastoral lease ILUA, and

• unallocated Crown land ILUA.

All of these documents were executed by the parties in early 2017 after confirmation meetings in Tennant Creek.

Construction of the pipeline is due to commence in the NT in July 2017.

Karlantijpa North carbon farming licence

Following numerous consultations with traditional owners over a number of years, in September 2016 the CLC directed the Karlantijpa North ALT to enter into a carbon farming licence with an Aboriginal corporation comprised of traditional owners.

The licence allows the corporation to conduct carbon farming activities on a part of the land trust. It will earn carbon credits through fire management activities in the licence area, which it intends to sell to government, businesses and individuals wishing to offset their carbon emissions.

The licence gives traditional owners an opportunity to participate in land management activities on their country and to realise economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits from those activities. The CLC will continue to work closely with the corporation to assist with the fire management activities and governance support.

CLC ranger Helma Bernard helps traditional owners to earn carbon credits through fire management.

CLC ranger Helma Bernard helps traditional owners to earn carbon credits through fire management.

Mutitjulu sublease

On 16 March 2017, and with consent of the Uluru – Kata Tjuta Aboriginal Land Trust, the Director of National Parks entered into a sublease with the Executive Director of Township Leasing over the community of Mutitjulu, which is located in the national park.

The execution of the sublease was the culmination of more than six years of stakeholder negotiations and consultations with traditional owners and affected residents.

In contrast to a typical township lease under s.19A of the Land Rights Act, the Mutitjulu sublease contains an innovative provision allowing the sublease to be transferred to a community Aboriginal corporation in future, if the CLC considers the corporation to have suitable capacity.

The sublease enables the Executive Director of Township Leasing to formalise tenure of organisations and individuals occupying land at Mutitjulu in return for leasing income that will be applied towards community benefit projects at Mutitjulu.

The CLC will continue to work with traditional owners of the Uluru – Kata Tjuta ALT on the Mutitjulu sublease by attending meetings of the sublease consultative forum and by working towards the eventual transfer of the sublease to an Aboriginal corporation.

Mu<u>t</u>itjulu residents and traditional owners celebrated the successful negotiations on the CLC’s innovative township leasing model in November 2016.

Mutitjulu residents and traditional owners celebrated the successful negotiations on the CLC’s innovative township leasing model in November 2016.

Bessie Liddle and Judy Trigger at the signing ceremony of the Mu<u>t</u>itjulu sublease in March 2017.

Bessie Liddle and Judy Trigger at the signing ceremony of the Mutitjulu sublease in March 2017.

Land use agreements

The CLC received fewer applications for leases and licences on Aboriginal land than during the previous period. This is because most community infrastructure is now subject to lease and there has been little development of additional serviced lots. Nevertheless, leasing on Aboriginal land requires the CLC to dedicate significant efforts to processing of consents to construct on leased premises, and consulting on and progressing requests for variations, assignments, subleases and surrenders in connection with leased premises.

It continued to implement the instructions of traditional owners about the application of rent from leases. Leasing income that they wish to apply to the benefit of the community has been incorporated into existing plans and priorities facilitated by the CLC’s community development program. Where there were instructions that this money be distributed to traditional owners, the CLC’s Aboriginal Associations Management Centre (AAMC) managed that distribution.

The CLC conducted further consultations with traditional owners of communities subject to leases about the application of rent, where required.

It continued to receive into its land use trust account rental payments owed to 10 Aboriginal corporations and associations which hold community living area (CLA) titles. The CLC provided community development and legal assistance to these organisations to allow the funds to be used in accordance with their rules for the benefit of their communities.

Australian Government

The Australian Government holds leases over 1,389 lots in 26 communities on Aboriginal land or in CLAs throughout the CLC region. This number includes lots leased by the Australian Government for the purpose of providing community housing and services.

Following a new offer from the Australian Government in early 2017, the CLC consulted with traditional owners of four communities that are not currently subject to a community housing lease. These consultations are ongoing.

The CLC continues to receive reports about the poor quality of community housing on these leases. 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. Claims brought by residents of Santa Teresa and Papunya under the Act are ongoing.

When it negotiated community housing leases, the Australian Government committed to making investments in improved community housing under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. In an effort to hold the Australian Government accountable for its promise, the CLC will continue to press for information about the levels of funding committed and acquitted under the agreement.

NT Government

The NT Government holds leases over 336 lots in communities on Aboriginal land and a further 76 lots in CLAs throughout the CLC region. It obtained consent for leases over 28 lots during the year.

The CLC looks forward to the completion of the NT Government’s remote communities cadastre survey, which aims to formalise land boundaries in remote Aboriginal communities and satisfy the requirements under the Planning Act to enable leases of more than 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 in communities and to ensure the ongoing management and compliance with existing leases.

Local government

The Central Desert, MacDonnell, Barkly and Victoria Daly regional councils are responsible for local government services in communities of the CLC region.

These regional councils collectively hold land use agreements, including leases and licences, over 217 lots in communities on Aboriginal land in the CLC region and 69 lots on CLAs. The CLC continues to consult traditional owners, communities and CLAs about new and outstanding land use applications and engages with the councils about the ongoing management of land use agreements.

Lena Pwerl is looking forward to moving into one of Arlparra’s three new emergency shelters.

Lena Pwerl is looking forward to moving into one of Arlparra’s three new emergency shelters.

Non-government organisations

Non-government organisations (NGOs) that operate in communities – mostly Aboriginal organisations such as art centres and stores – currently hold leases over 249 lots on Aboriginal land and 11 lots on CLAs in the CLC region. These organisations continue to demonstrate a commitment to securing tenure over assets on Aboriginal land by negotiating land use agreements, and the CLC continues to receive lease and licence applications from NGOs operating on Aboriginal land and on CLAs in its region. The tables below summarise the number of applications for leases and licences, the number of consultations concerning applications to lease and licence and/or the management of a lease or licence agreements, the number of leases and licences to which consent has been provided and the total number of current leases and licences in the CLC region.

Table 6. Applications received, 2016–17

Lessee / licessee

ALRA communities

CLAs

Australian Government

2

0

NT Government

3

4

Local government

14

3

Non-government

30

5

Table 7. Consultations conducted, 2016–17

Lessee / licessee

ALRA communities

CLAs

Australian Government

9

1

NT Government

9

4

Local government

23

10

Non-government

38

5

Table 8. Consents obtained, 2016–17

Lessee / licensee

ALRA communities

CLAs

Australian Government

134

0

NT Government

27

1

Local government

32

22

Non-government

15

0

Table 9. Leases and licences at 30 June 2017

Lessee / licensee

ALRA communities

CLAs

Australian Government

1,053

336

NT Government

336

76

Local government

217

69

Non-government

249

11

Pastoral development

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

It ensures that proponents create training and employment opportunities for traditional owners and residents of remote communities, adhere to grazing levels compatible with cultural and natural resource values, and develop pastoral infrastructure that continues to benefit traditional owners.

Grazing licences occur on land being developed under the collaborative Indigenous Pastoral Program (IPP) and other areas of Aboriginal land. Typically, they are issued for five years with an option of a further five years but may be longer. Grazing licences or subleases are also issued to Aboriginal pastoral companies to enable them to operate commercially on Aboriginal land.

The CLC continued to monitor the terms and conditions of 11 grazing licences and subleases over Aboriginal land and received two new applications for grazing licences. It held a number of consultations on new and existing applications with traditional owners of the Mungkarta, Karlantijpa, Angarapa and Alkwert ALTs. Negotiations in relation to these proposed grazing licences are ongoing. The CLC also consulted traditional owners about proposed changes to the grazing licence over part of the Haasts Bluff ALT.

Commercial feral animal harvest

The CLC continued to monitor the terms and conditions of a commercial harvest agreement which permitted the removal of feral herbivores from the Urrampinyi Iltjiltjarri ALT in return for benefits, such as income, employment and road maintenance, to traditional owners.

Tourism development

The CLC continued to raise awareness of its statutory responsibilities and processes among tour operators and potential partners and facilitated preparations for the development of tourism proposals on Aboriginal land. It consulted traditional owners for proposed tourism developments at Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park and other NT national parks, including Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park and Finke Gorge National Park. The CLC has also been working closely with traditional owners to help them implement tourism development at Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park.

The CLC also consulted with traditional owners from a number of ALTs who hosted The Track Outback Race in May 2017. The ultra marathon traversed numerous ALTs and other forms of land tenure in the CLC region.

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