The purpose of this discussion paper is to provide information about Tasmania’s current model for returning land to the Aboriginal community, and to facilitate discussion about improvements or changes to this model.
The paper was released for broader public comment and consultation (for a six week period) from 9 August to 20 September 2018, with an extension until January 2019.
The paper is structured around the following sections:
- Objectives of land return
- Land acquisition
- Land management
- The objective of Tasmania’s Aboriginal Lands Act 1995 (the Act) takes a narrow view of land return and does not refer to the many other benefits of land return such as improved social and health outcomes, as well as economic empowerment.
- The inclusion of clear objectives in legislation can support the identification and prioritisation of land suitable for return to the Aboriginal community.
- The uncertainty of the land return process was noted by the Legislative Council’s Select Committee on Aboriginal Lands, whose final report recommendations in 2013 included: “a process should be created to allow any future claims or proposals to be removed from the political arena and to be fairly assessed by an independent body”.
- Under the Act, Crown land can be returned to the community with the agreement of the Parliament, by a mechanism that transfers the title to ALCT, which then holds the title in perpetuity for Aboriginal people. The arbitrary nature of parliamentary approval for land return can make the process somewhat unpredictable.
- Many Aboriginal organisations in Tasmania also maintain a range of other property interests. While most relate to administrative or program related facilities, some include property of cultural and heritage significance.