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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9269

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER LAND FUND

Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 30/06/1994

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 9269

PRIME MINISTER539
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER LAND FUND
Today I introduced into the House of Representatives a Bill to establish a
national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Furfd and the Indigenous
Land Coiporation.
Late last year we enacted the native title legislation in response to the High
Court's historic Mabo decision. That legislation gave effect to the Court's
recognition that Australia's indigenous people owned the country before
European settlement, and were dispossessed, often violently, of their land. It
also provided for the validation of existing interests which may be invalid
because of the existence of native title. In a real sense, the Government
legislated for all Australians.
The native title legislation is fundamental to the process of addressing
dispossession, and will benefit greatly those people who have been able to
maintain a connection with their land sufficient to prove native title.
Unfortunately, this will be a very small proportion of Aboriginal people,
because the majority have been forced from their traditional lands.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable indigenous people to acquire land, and to
manage and maintain it in a sustainable way to provide economic,
environmental, social and cultural benefits.
The Bill is built on a foundation of input from a wide range of interests,
including State and Territory Governments, farming, industrial, environmental
and church organisations. In particular, I ensured peak indigenous interests
were fully consulted, and were directly involved in the formulation of the
Government's proposals. The Bill I introduced today contains a number of
provisions which are directly attributable to my discussions with indigenous
interests.
The Bill establishes a Land Fund to receive monies from which it will make
allocations to the Indigenous Land Corporation for land acquisition and
management. We have already allocated $ 200 million to the Fund in this
year's Budget. The Bill provides continuing allocations of $ 121 million
indexed in terms of 1994 dollars for a further nine. years. Thereafter the fund
will be self-sustaining.

The new Corporation will be an independent and commercially oriented
statutory authority, with a dedicated focus on land matters, and specialised
expertise in land and environmental management.
The Corporation will advance the cause of self-determination by providing
indigenous people with greater access to the land and its resources and will
be controlled by indigenous people. At least five of the proposed seven
members must be Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islanders.
The Corporation will prepare a national Indigenous Land Strategy based on
regional strategies covering three to five-year periods, and regional
organisations will be involved in planning at the local level. Given the
extensive indigenous land holdings in remote areas of the country, the
Corporation will provide a vehicle for ensuring that land management and
sustainability issues are given much greater focus on indigenous owned
lands. This will benefit indigenous landholders directly, but will also have
significant spin-offs for the nation as a whole.
The Corporation will receive payments from the Land Fund to enable it to
undertake its functions. However, to ensure a smooth transition, ATSIC will
retain its land acquisition and management functions and budget for the next
three years. ATSIC will also be undertaking the day to day administration of
the Fund.
This legislation prohibits the claiming of land acquired by the Indigenous
Land Corporation under the Northern Territory Land Rights Act,. but does not
prevent the conversion of p~ storal leases to native title under the Native Title
Act. The Government is committed to redressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander disadvantage, and in particular to formulating a comprehensive
response to the Mabo decision. The Bill introduced today is an integral part
of this response, and its most financially significant element. It acknowledges
that the economic, social and cultural marginalisation still endured by
indigenous people can be traced to their dispossession. In a further stage of
our response to the Mabo decision, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation
and ATSIC are undertaking consultations with a view to advising the
Government on institutional and structural changes which will assist in
remedying indigenous dispossession.
Through the social justice measures, the Government is working towards
establishing a new relationship between Australia's indigenous peoples and
the wider community, a relationship in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander culture is to be protected and valued, and indigenous people
participate fully in Australian economic life.
CANBERRA JUNE, .1994

MAIN FEATURES OF THE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT
ISLANDER LAND FUND BILL
Background In 1992 the High Court in its Mabo decision recognised that
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people owned much of the
Australian continent before European settlement
The Commonwealth Government enacted the Native Titl Act 1993 to
give legislative recognition to the High Court's decision
To prove native title, indigenous people must be able to demonstrate
a continuing connection with the land
Because most Indigenous people were dispossessed of their land,
only a small proportion will be able to prove native title
The Government is therefore establishing the Land Fund as part of a
broader response to the Mabo decision in recognition of the
dispossession of indigenous people.
Purpose of the Land Fund
The Land Fund will provide monies to enable Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people to acquire and maintain land in a sustainable
way to provide economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits
The majority of monies allocated to the Fund will be Invested, so that
after ten years the Fund will be self sustaining
The Fund will provide money to a new Indigenous Land Corporation,
and for a transitional period, to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Commission, to enable the Corporation and the Commission
to purchase land for indigenous people and to assist them to manage
and maintain land.
Structure and Funding of the Land Fund
The Government Is providing $ 200 million to the Fund for 1994-95 and
$ 121 million, Indexed In term of 1994-95 dollars for the following 9
years the total allocations over 10 years will be $ 1 .463 billion
after allowing for outlays, the Fund Is expected to reach $ 1.1
billion in $ 1 994-95 dollars ( or $ 1.26 billion In nominal terms) after
years, assuming a real return on investments of 4% per annum
The Indigenous Land Corporation will receive from the Fund
million In 1994-95, $ 24 million, indexed In terms of 1994-95 dollars for
1995-96 and 1996-97, and $ 45 million Indexed In terms of 1994-95
dollars for a further seven years thereafter

After ten years, the Indigenous Land Corporation will receive the
returns, after inflation, on the investments of the Fund
it Is expected that this will be about $ 45 million in 1994-95 dollars
ATSIC will retain the $ 21 million it currently spends on land
acquisition and management In 1994-95 and will be paid an
equivalent amount from the Land Fund In 1995-96 and 1996-97.
The Indigenous Land Corporation
* The Indigenous Land Corporation is being established to provide a
specialised focus and expertise on indigenous land Issues
The Corporation will be responsible for purchasing land for the
purpose of granting it to the indigenous corporations and providing
grants to such corporations for the purpose of purchasing land
-land may be purchased to provide for economic, environmental,
social and cultural benefits
The Corporation will place particular emphasis on the sustainable
management of Indigenous held land ( including land bought before
the establishment of the Land Fund)
-generally It will do this by entering Into agreements with the land
holders
-It may also make grants or loans for land management purposes
The Corporation will be required to adopt sound land and
environmental management practices; to directly Involve indigenous
land holders in land management activities; and to act In accordance
with sound business principles when operating on a commercial
basis -it will also be required to attempt to maximise the employment of
indigenous people and to use goods and services provided by
indigenous people
The Corporation may establish subsidiaries to undertake some of Its
functions -for example the Corporation could establish subsidiaries to
undertake Its functions In a particular area or region
The Corporation will be required to develop national and regional
strategies for its operations In consultation with relevant Indigenous
Interests The Corporation will be headed by a seven person Board of whom at
least 5 must be indigenous people.
Purchase of land In the Northern Territory
* Land purchased by the Corporation in the Northern Territory will not
be available for claim under the AboriginaiLand Rights ( Northern
Territory) Act 1976

this will ensure that there is not a significant increase in pastoral
properties claimed under that Act before claims cease in 1997
this will not preclude conversion of such properties to native title
ATSIC moneys will continue to be available for the purchase of
properties in the Northern Territory without restriction on claims
under the Land Rights Act.
Office of Indigenous Affairs
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
June 1994 ' 4"

Transcript 9269