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Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Bill 2003

Category: Policy/Strategy
Date: 1 January 2003
Sub Category:Policy/Strategy
State/Country:Northern Territory, Australia
Subject Matter: | Cultural Heritage | Economic Development | Environmental Heritage | Land Management | Land Transaction | Mining and Minerals | Native Title | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests
Summary Information:
The Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Bill 2003 came out of an announcement by the Northern Territory Government of its intention to develop an improved and enhanced parks system and to address the uncertainties created by the Western Australia v Ward High Court decision.
The framework draws together the Aboriginal obligation to care for country and maintain cultural traditions with a range of government objectives, including protection of biological diversity, enhancing recreational, educational and tourist opportunities, optimising employment and training and creating a sound and sustainable economic base for regional development.
Detailed Information:
The Ward decision highlighted the probability that the declarations of 49 Territory parks between 1978 and 1998 were invalid, leaving claims under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 over 11 of those parks open to proceed to hearing by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner.

With the aim of avoiding litigation, the government sought to find a comprehensive solution, identifying core principles to become central to a framework proposal to be accepted by the Land Councils.
The core principles include:
- development of a Parks Masterplan to expand and more effectively manage the parks estate;
- current mining and exploration leases and applications and tourism operator concessions guaranteed;
- all Territory Parks and Reserves will remain accessible to all Territorians and visitors on a no entry fee, no entry permit basis;
- business as usual in parks until negotiations are completed; and
- where title changes occur they will be conditional on the land being leased back to the Northern Territory subject to joint management under NT legislation.

Following negotiations between government and Land Councils regarding the framework package, government is now introducing a Bill into Parliament which seeks to formalise the offer. The proposed legislation provides a framework for the establishment, maintenance and management of a comprehensive system of parks and reserves in the Northern Territory. It is understood that a comprehensive system is one that:
- is developed in partnership between the Territory and the traditional aboriginal owners of the parks and reserves;
- benefits those traditional aboriginal owners by recognising, valuing and incorporating Indigenous culture, knowledge and decision-making processes;
- protects biological diversity;
- serves the educational and recreational needs of Territorians and visitors to the Northern Territory; and
- enjoys widespread community support.

Specifically the Bill recognises, for the first time, that one of the objectives of the Territory parks system is to maintain and promote aboriginal traditional values alongside protection and promotion of the values of the natural environment. The Bill sets down a timeframe for aboriginal traditional owners to agree to the framework offer set out under the legislation. The Bill ensures this occurs in a transparent manner and subject to a number of pre conditions being met.
If these conditions are not complied with, within a defined timeframe, then the sunset clause set out in the legislation will apply, and the framework offer will lapse.

Where necessary, Indigenous Land Use Agreements under the Native Title Act will be entered into to facilitate the proposal and ensure that the requirements of the Native Title Act are met.

The Bill was introduced into Parliament in October 2003.

Related Entries

  • Northern Territory of Australia
  • Northern Land Council
  • Central Land Council
  • Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory
  • Legislation
  • Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1978 (NT)
  • Native Title (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Regulations 1999 (Cth)
  • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)
  • Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth)
  • Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth)
  • Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Act 2003 (NT)
  • Case Law
  • Western Australia v Ward (2002) [2002] HCA 28 (8 August 2002)

  • References

    Department of the Chief Minister, Northern Territory (2002) Parks and Reserves Bill 2003 - Framework for the Future
    Northern Territory Government (2002) Draft Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Bill


    Policy/Strategy | Native Title (Australia)

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