National Farmers' Federation

Coalition acts on NFF’s calls for native title funding

Following repeated calls to both the Government and the Coalition from the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and its members, the Coalition has today announced that funding of $2.2 million for native title respondents will be reinstated should they be elected.
NFF CEO Matt Linnegar welcomed the news – which comes eight months after the Federal Government cut funding from respondents in native title claims – as it ensures respondents will have equal access to justice as claimants in the native title process.
“Last year, the Federal Government decided to cut funding to native title respondents but continue funding to claimants, creating an imbalance in the system and inequality between the treatment of claimants and respondents,” Mr Linnegar said.
“This decision severely jeopardised the goodwill of respondents, primarily farmers and landholders, in the native title process in favour of Government cost cutting.
“Disappointingly for all parties, it also meant that the native title process was disrupted, with Courts having to deal with an increase in the number of self-represented farmers or legal representatives for a host of individuals – as opposed to the previous system where one lawyer and one Native Title Officer, funded by the Federal Government, represented all of the pastoral respondents in one claim.
“Since this time, the NFF and our members have strongly advocated for the reinstatement of funding for respondents to the tune of $2.2 million – hardly a vast sum for the Government, yet vital funds for the more than 1,000 respondents still to have their native title cases heard.
“With less than two years left to run in native title cases, and with cases still ongoing, the reinstatement of respondent funding promised by the Coalition would come at a critical time.
“We welcome the promise made by the Coalition to reinstate the funding – ensuring a return to a fair and equitable native title system – and will work closely with the party if elected to ensure this is enacted quickly,” Mr Linnegar said.

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