Virtual Building Bridges - Land Rights at Risk, again?

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Jon Altman will speak about Land Rights at Risk, again? Evaluation of the Economic Empowerment Bill

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Minister Wyatt is in the process of implementing what he terms the most comprehensive reforms to the NT Land Rights Act since its enactment in 1976. This Act is the most powerful expression of land rights in Australia. However, to date there has been little debate either in the Indigenous, academic, or broader public domains about these amendments. The last time such significant reforms were proposed in 1998 there was an overwhelming backlash asking whether Land Rights were at Risk? Those reforms were stymied. There have been amendments since, especially in 2006 when 99-year township leasing was introduced, but they have been hotly contested and attracted considerable public attention. The difference today is that the reform package to ‘modernise’ the Land Rights Act has been ‘co-designed’ with strong support from the four NT Aboriginal land councils. The centrepiece of the Economic Empowerment Bill is the proposed transfer of control of the Aboriginals Benefit Account’s investment and granting functions to a new authority, the NT Aboriginal Investment Corporation, with considerable power and funding. Other reforms focus on township leasing and exploration and mining processes.

Please join this free online event at (Meeting ID: 926 7766 6714)

In this talk Jon Altman wants to raise critically-important questions about the amendments that have had bipartisan (Coalition and ALP) parliamentary support and so little parliamentary scrutiny; and analyse what dangers might lurk behind these proposals that are supposed to economically empower Aboriginal landowners in the NT; and to consider how they might be improved—or if they should be opposed?


Jon Altman, emeritus professor at ANU and adjunct professor at UTS Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research

Jon Altman is an activist and academic committed to social justice who has worked with Indigenous communities and organisations in the NT for over 40 years; he is a concerned Australian and non-executive director of several not-for-profits including Original Power, the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust and the Arena Foundation. Much of Jon’s research has focused on the workings of land rights and native title systems, including in their interactions with extractive industries. Way back in 1984 Jon chaired an independent review for the Australian government of the Aboriginals Benefit Account that the current reforms partially address 37 years on. In 1999 he co-edited the volume Land Rights at Risk? Evaluations of the Reeves Report that inspires the title for this talk.

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Meeting ID: 926 7766 6714

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For information about the other sessions of this series (and recordings) please visit:

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