Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976

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Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976
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Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act
Enacted by Parliament of Australia
Date signed 16 December 1976
Amendments
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act provides the basis upon which Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory can claim rights to land based on traditional occupation. The Act was strongly based on the recommendations of Justice Woodward, who chaired the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission (also known as the "Woodward Royal Commission").[1] The Whitlam government first introduced a Bill to Parliament; however, this lapsed upon the dismissal of the government in 1975. The conservative government, led by Malcolm Fraser, reintroduced a Bill, though not of the same content, and this was signed by the Governor-General of Australia on 16 December 1976.

The Act is significant in that it was the first of the Aboriginal land rights acts, allowing for a claim of title if claimants can provide evidence of their traditional association with land. About 50% of the Northern Territory land and 85% of its coastline are owned communally by Aboriginals.

There are four land councils established under the Act to represent Aboriginal landowners:

2006 Amendments[edit]

In August 2006, the Howard Government amended the Act. The "Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006" added several clauses intended to promote economic development in remote townships. Amongst these, low interest loans were provided to promote private home ownership. The Amendment does away with communal ownership of certain parcels of lands previously vested as parts of inalienable Aboriginal Land Trusts.

The Amendment also prescribed for the 'fast-tracking' of mining negotiations between corporations and Indigenous communities, minimising the role of the large land councils on behalf of land owning groups.

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