Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (September 2010)
CLC council meeting
Moved from Lake Nash to Tennant Creek because forecast rain was predicted to make roads treacherous, the meeting was held from July 27-29. Despite the poor weather, 66 delegates made it to Tennant Creek from their regions, producing some lively discussion over the three days.
One of the biggest issues discussed was leasing and the Federal Government’s insistence that Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu accept 40 year leases by the Commonwealth over the housing areas of their communities.
The leases are not the Land Council’s idea, they are the Federal Government’s, but it is the Land Council’s job to explain the offers to the communities.
CLC staff have been holding many meetings in the communities to explain what can sometimes be a confusing issue. After many months of meetings and discussions, the Ntaria (Hermannsburg) community decided to accept a lease by the government in return for 26 new houses.
The Council passed a resolution at the July meeting that will see Ntaria enter into a 40 year housing lease with the Australian Government.
The decision was not made easily by Ntaria residents but without the lease, the community, which like so many other communities has a shortage of housing, would not have received any more houses.
Five year leases were also discussed, which were forced on communities by the previous government when it launched the intervention.
The Australian Government has started paying rent for these leases, but the CLC is fighting for a better deal. When an amount is finalised, communities must decide how to manage these payments.
Some delegates at the Council meeting suggested that the payments should be used for community projects rather than being paid to individuals.
In an effort to help more community members have a greater involvement in making decisions for their communities, the Land Council’s policy section is seeking funding to back a three year project that would develop a more community-driven development process in Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu.
The concept was outlined at the Council meeting and delegates were told that staff will start talking with residents in the three communities in coming months.
With so much interest from companies in exploring for uranium in Central Australia, the mining section has spent a lot of time informing traditional owners and community members of the facts involved.
During the July meeting the mining section outlined the unit’s community information presentation, which aims to give people all sides of the story so they can make an informed decision on whether they’d like to approve exploration or not.
A presentation was also made to the Council by the One Laptop per Child project to distribute 15,000 laptops to children in the NT over the next couple of years.