The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee has released a report on the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, recommending it be passed by the Federal Parliament.
On 17 October 2019, the Senate referred the provisions of the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 to the committee for inquiry and report by 28 February 2020.
On 4 December 2019, the Senate granted an extension to report by 16 April 2020. Subsequently, on 26 March 2020, the Senate granted a further extension of time for reporting until 19 August 2020.
The committee’s recommendation was welcomed by the Western Australian Government, who urged the Federal Government to ensure the Bill is dealt with expeditiously to give effect to much-needed amendments to the Native Title Act.
The Bill, which has been subject to extensive consultation, has broad support across the native title sector.
The amendment Bill contains a number of reforms to the Native Title Act which would create greater efficiency in the operation of the legislation.
The long-awaited validation of section 31 agreements is critical to providing certainty to agreements entered into between mining companies and native title parties.
Similarly, the provision for a section 47C whereby extinguishment of native title over parks can be disregarded, but only where there is an agreement reached, was welcomed by the Government.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said: “I am pleased that after nearly a year the Senate Committee has recommended the Morrison Government proceed with proposed amendments to the Native Title Act.”
“These amendments are long overdue and will facilitate parties to reach negotiated outcomes.”
“There is, however, further work to do in the future as noted by Labor Senators, and I urge the Morrison Government to engage with native title holders, States and Territories and industry to develop a comprehensive legislative package for much-needed reforms to the Native Title Act,” the Minister said.