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Future acts regime

Proposed actions or developments that affect native title are classed as 'future acts' under the Native Title Act 1993.

Future acts include acts done after 1 January 1994 (the date of the commencement of the Native Title Act that affect native title. Future acts can include the making, amendment or repeal of legislation, and the grant or renewal of licences and permits, for example mining and exploration licences or permits.

The future acts regime in the Native Title Act establishes procedures to be followed so that the future act can be validly done. The procedures differ depending on the type of future act. Most relevant in the resources sector is the 'right to negotiate' given to native title parties.

The Native Title Act 1993 allows states and territories to legislate alternatives to the ‘right to negotiate’ or to seek an exemption from the ‘right to negotiate’ in specific circumstances.

Indigenous Land Use Agreements

Indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) are voluntary agreements made between governments or land users with native title groups about the use and management of land and waters. The scope of these agreements can be wide and can include access to land, the relationship between native title rights and the rights of other land users, activities such as mining or exploration, or be part of the resolution of a native title claim.

If the Commonwealth is a negotiating party to an ILUA, it will apply the Indigenous Land Use Agreement Policy Principles (the ILUA Policy Principles). The ILUA Policy Principles are an important mechanism to ensure the Commonwealth’s approach to ILUA negotiation is consistent and transparent.

For more information on the future acts regime, including the right to negotiate and ILUAs, visit the National Native Title Tribunal website.

State and territory alternative to right to negotiate

States and territories may legislate for alternative procedures to the right to negotiate set out in the Native Title Act. The state and territory procedures will be effective if the relevant Commonwealth minister makes a determination under section 43 of the Native Title Act that the state and territory procedures comply with the Native Title Act. States and territories can also seek an exemption from the application of the ‘right to negotiate’ when specific conditions are met.

Determinations made by the Commonwealth Minister under section 43 can be found on the on the Federal Register of Legislation.​​​​​

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