In this matter the Court considered making case management orders for further mediation and joining Lithgow City Council (Council) as a party to the native title proceeding.
The respondents were the Attorney General of New South Wales and 116 other parties.
The Court listed three matters for case management hearing on 23 July 2019. Technical difficulties were created due to the number of parties appearing by telephone at the same time, which caused the hearing to be terminated.
Later that day, the parties were contacted by the Registry and told that in order to avoid future expense by having another case management hearing, the Court would make proposed orders joining Lithgow City Council as a party to the proceeding and also making orders for the three matters to proceed to further mediation.
The Court invited parties to file and serve a written outline of submissions in opposition to the proposed joinder and the proposed orders concerning further mediation.
The Court was satisfied that the Lithgow City Council should be joined as a party, given that there was no opposition to the joinder application, and it was in the interests of justice because the Council’s interests may be affected, at .
The Court sent an email to all parties on the afternoon of 23 July 2019 advising that it would be making orders along the lines of the proposed short minutes of order provided by the applicant in preparation for the case management hearing and invited written submissions. The parties were advised that the Court would determine the matters on the papers and without a further hearing, at .
The Court noted that the only opponent was Mr Trevor Robinson, who represented himself and was a previously inactive Indigenous Respondent, who wished to become active. Mr Robinson asked that the mediation process be delayed to 1 November 2019 so that he could call several Wiradjuri nation meetings to discuss the Warrabinga-Wiradjuri claim and solicit affidavits from the Wiradjuri people regarding these matters. Mr Robinson also wanted to provide the Wiradjuri people with a letter he had written to the Australian National Audit Office regarding what he described as “the abuse of the Native Title Process for financial gain though “phoenix operations”, at .
His Honour was not persuaded to delay the proposed further mediation process and Mr Robinson had until September (earliest point from which the proposed mediation can commence) to attend to the matters he had described. Griffith J concluded that it was "in everyone’s interest that the mediation process not be delayed any further because it has the prospect of narrowing the disputed issues and reducing the scope for costly contested legal proceedings", at .
Lithgow City Council be joined as a party to the proceedings under s 84(5) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA) and scheduling orders for further mediation under s 86B(5) of the NTA.