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Native title issues not going to court in Aust.

National trend gathering momentum with 200th agreement

The increased take-up of indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) around Australia reflects a national trend for negotiating native title issues, rather than taking the disputes to court, according to the President of the National Native Title Tribunal Graeme Neate.

The Tribunal has now registered 200 ILUAs around the country - a significant achievement and one that was reached in less than half the time it took to register the first 100.

Mr Neate said the 200th ILUA was a mining and exploration agreement in the Northern Territory between Newmont Australia Limited and the Central Land Council. It covers an area of 2054 square kilometres of land at Birrindudu, 265 kilometres south-west of Timber Creek. Among the benefits, the Gurindji people have secured training and employment opportunities, protection of their sacred sites and rehabilitation of exploration and mine sites.

‘This ILUA is an example of how native title agreements can deliver the triple bottom line for Indigenous people and industry,’ Mr Neate said. ‘That means real social, economic and environmental benefits in one voluntary and legally binding agreement.’

ILUAs were established as a direct result of the 1998 amendments to the Native Title Act. They can be negotiated where native title has been determined or where it still needs to be addressed. They are sometimes part of a native title determination, or settled separately to an active claim over land.

Importantly, ILUAs have given mining companies, pastoralists, state and local governments the ability to proceed with projects while ensuring the rights and interests of local Indigenous people are recognised and respected.

Please see the Tribunal's website for a state breakdown of ILUAs

The 200 registered ILUAs across Australia include;

• access and approvals for mining companies

• planning and infrastructure development for local government

• infrastructure development for power and communication providers

• pipeline development for energy companies

• pastoral agreements

• approvals for community living

• commitments to Indigenous employment

• Indigenous involvement in the management of national parks, and

• the establishment of cultural centres or education trust funds.

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