A First Nations member of parliament in the Northern Territory is concerned changes to the NT Land Rights act may allow Land Councils to overturn decisions made by Traditional Owners.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt has introduced comprehensive reforms to the act which he says will allow Traditional Owners in the NT maximise their economic future.
In a media statement from the Northern Land Council in August, Acting CEO Joe Martin-Jard said the reforms embed changes that put Traditional Owners in the box seat in managing their own communities.
The Senate referred the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Economic Empowerment) Bill 2021 for an inquiry on October 21 and is due to report on November 25.
With just two weeks to submit to the inquiry, the process has been criticised as being rushed and while the amendments come from a partnership between Land Councils and the Government, there are claims that many on the ground have been left out.
Yolŋu man and Independent Member for Mulka, Yingiya Mark Guyula says many of the people he speaks to out on country don’t know about the changes or that the Bill is in the Parliament.
In a written statement, Mr Guyula said “The Bill has 82 pages of changes to the Act and is complex law. I don’t know what all of these changes mean and while these amendments may be helpful, we have not had time to understand or give consent or consideration to the changes.”
He says he is particularly concerned with the the intent to repeal one of the sections which he is worried will allow land councils to revoke permits created by Aboriginal landowners
He is calling for more time for people to be involved in the consultation before the Bill passes through the Federal Parliament.
Submissions close November 5, which is tomorrow.