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 Past native title consultations and reforms

Institutional reforms

In early 2012, the Australian Government announced it would improve the efficiency of the native title system by implementing institutional reform. The reforms involved:

  • providing resourcing and staffing of the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) by the Federal Court administration, and consolidating the agencies' corporate services functions
  • transferring responsibility and resourcing for native title claims mediation and claim-related Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) negotiation assistance to the Federal Court.

The NNTT remains a statutory authority, and retains all other statutory functions. The roles of the NNTT President, members and Native Title Registrar continue to exist. Within an agreed budget, the Registrar continues to exercise powers relating to the day-to-day management of the administrative affairs of the Tribunal, and determining its staffing arrangements. Where possible, NNTT and Federal Court staff are co-located. The reforms result in a better alignment and allocation of functions, and a clearer focus on increasing the rate of claims resolution.

The reforms institute the recommendations of the Strategic Review of Small and Medium Agencies in the Attorney-General's portfolio (Skehill Review). They also build on 2009 reforms which gave the Federal Court a central role in managing native title claims. The reforms are expected to generate $19m in savings over four years.

The NNTT, the Federal Court and this department worked together closely to implement the reforms. Implementation of the reforms concluded on 12 March 2013, with the commencement of the amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 made by the Courts and Tribunals Legislation Amendment (Administration) Act 2013.

Amendments to tax law

The Tax Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 6) Act 2013 amended income tax legislation to clarify that native title benefits are not subject to income tax (including capital gains tax). This removes the longstanding uncertainty about the tax treatment of these benefits.

More information, including the explanatory memorandum, is available on the Parliament of Australia website. The native title tax provisions are contained in Schedule 1 of the Bill and Chapter 1 of the explanatory memorandum.

An exposure draft of the legislation was released for consultation on 27 July 2012 for a four-week consultation period. Details are available on The Treasury website.

This change follows the 2010 Native Title, Indigenous Economic Development and Tax consultation paper. This paper is available on The Treasury website.

Native Title Amendment Bill 2012

On 28 November 2012, the former Attorney-General introduced the Native Title Amendment Bill 2012 into Parliament. The Bill contained amendments to clarify the meaning of 'good faith' and associated amendments to the 'right to negotiate' provisions, enable parties to agree to disregard historical extinguishment of native title in areas such as parks and reserves, and streamline indigenous land use agreement processes. The Bill was not passed by the last Parliament, and has not been reintroduced.

The Bill, the explanatory memorandum and the former Attorney-General’s second reading speech are available on the Parliament of Australia website.

An exposure draft of the legislation was released on 21 September 2012 for a four-week consultation period. The Australian Government received the following submissions:

Following introduction, the Bill was referred to the House Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The submissions to the House Committee can be found at:

The submissions to the Senate Committee can be found at: