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Mt Allen - NT withdraws action

February 1990

Land Rights News Vol 2, No 17 Feb 1990

The Northern Territory Government has withdrawn legal action over the granting to traditional owners of Mount Allan station and agreed to pay the Central Land Council's legal costs. The injunction restraining the Registrar-General from registering the deed will now be lifted.

The Government had appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court after a Federal Court judge dismissed its application to have a number of inter-station tracks declared public roads and excised from the land grant.

In October 1988, senior traditional owner Frankie Japanangka received the title deeds to Mount Allan on behalf of the Yalpirakinu Aboriginal Land Trust. The grant had been delayed for more than three years by NT Government legal action following the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs June 1985 announcement that he had accepted the recommendations of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner.

But within days of Mt Allan becoming Aboriginal land, the NT Government slapped an injunction on the Registrar-General preventing the deed being registered.

This month's backdown followed a meeting between the traditional owners and neighbouring pastoralists at which pastoralists were assured that there would be no problems with their future access to station tracks they had previously used.

While this had always been the position of the land council and the traditional owners, the NT Government, in its litigious pursuit of denying Aboriginal land rights, sought to have the tracks excised from the land trust area.

The Government agreed to pay more than $36,000 in legal costs to the land council. The total cost to the Northern Territory taxpayer is estimated to be approximately $100,000 - all over a handful of inter-station dirt tracks that the neighbouring pastoralists themselves were not concerned about.