Miners and farmers no basis for claims says Land Council

April 04, 2013 at 9:23 PM

A last minute bid by the Minerals Council of Australia and the National Farmers Federation to peg back amendments to the Native Title Act takes us back 20 years and borders on hysterical, North Queensland Land Council chair Errol Neal says.

“There’s no logic to their claims,” Mr Neal said.

“How do changes which open the way for our rights over parks and reserves to be recognised have anything to do with farmers and pastoralists?

“And what does the mining industry have to fear about negotiating in good faith – isn’t that how they do all of their business?”

“This is paranoia - why are they afraid of being reasonable?

“They say there is no definition of what reasonable means, but there’s no definition of what reasonable means in hundreds of statutes.

“This kind of attitude, based on ignorance, was something I would have expected to see 20-years or more ago, there is no basis to their claims.”

He said the biggest failing of the Bill was failing to change the burden of proof.

“That was a big disappointment,” he said.

“The reversal of proof was promised back in June last year and hasn’t come through.

“That would have made all the difference to us, these groups have nothing to complain about, and in fact they are well aware they never have.”

For more information contact NQLC chair Errol Neal on 0448 091 903
or deputy chair Terry O’Shane on 0417 764 992

Essentially the Amendment Bill covers three main areas:
it allows historical extinguishment to be set aside over parks and reserves by agreement between the Native Title parties and the State- ie even if the State had already set aside some right for a farmer or pastoralist to be in such an area, presumably they wouldn’t then agree to allow extinguishment to be disregarded;

it attempts to define the grounds for negotiations in ‘good faith’ over future acts by extending the time (from six months to eight months) that can elapse before either party can ask for an arbitrator to step in and mediate between parties, and tries to define some requirements for what is ‘reasonable’ in good faith negotiations - the word ‘reasonable’ is used in hundreds of pieces of legislation and regulation; and

streamlining registration and authorisation, and broadening the scope for body corporate ILUAs ultimately easing some administrative restraints which have no bearing on outcomes, only process.

Information courtesy NQLC lawyer Martin Dore