National Farmers' Federation

Practical Moves to Make Native Title Claims Workable

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) welcomes the Federal Government’s response to the Native Title Claims Resolution Review Report, noting the preference for improving mediation over costly litigation to resolve native title claims.
“We are encouraged that this emphasis will give substantially more power to the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) in the area of mediation,” John Stewart, Chair of NFF Native Title Sub-Committee, said.
“NFF considers the existing mediation provisions under the NNTT to be wholly inadequate and inefficient. We would support the NNTT having greater scope to enforce the need to progress mediation under new rules of engagement.
“In particular, we are concerned that pastoralists’ concerns should be regarded and, therefore, treated with the same respect and importance as claimants’.”
Further, NFF supports moves to bring greater commonsense and practicality to the NNTT’s deliberations, namely:
* Eliminating the requirement for minor registration amendments to force a full re-registration of claims, thereby saving considerable time in progressing claims.
* Bolstering the requirement upon applicants to provide evidential material at the time of lodgement – that is, proving connection to the land in question – and, thus, giving the NNTT the ability to identify and rule on ambit claims swiftly.
* Increasing the powers of the NNTT to conduct inquiries to seek and gather more information to assist the improved mediation role, sought through ‘overlapping claims’ issues to resolve claims quickly.
This is the first of six reviews instigated by the Federal Government to be released. NFF looks forward to the results of the other reviews so the whole package can be assessed.

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