In the 25 years since the Mabo High Court decision, native title claims, litigation, determinations, and land use agreements have proliferated with the result that native title is now an undisputed component in the Australian nation's core institutional framework. This has been a remarkable development. The emergence of public policy for native title over the past quarter century, built on a complex array of conceptual foundations which derive from Indigenous tradition, the common law, statute law, anthropology, history and politics, invites the question: what next? Where will native title policy be in 25 years' time? What are the emerging issues which will most shape that future?
This paper attempts to explore and answer those questions from a public policy perspective, adopting an explicitly political frame of analysis from international development theory, political settlement theory. Emerging issues of national, regional and local significance are considered and assessed from both the perspective of public policymakers, and Indigenous interests.
It is argued that there are strong grounds for both policymakers and Indigenous interests dealing with native title issues to be more proactive than has been the case to date in managing the emerging strategic challenges identified.