Skip to main content

The Commonwealth’s Indigenous land tenure reform agenda: Whose aspirations, and for what outcomes?

Publication date
Ed Wensing
Cover image

This paper argues that weak links are being made between increasing opportunities for economic development (including private home ownership) and the need for Indigenous land tenure reform. The paper draws on a considerable body of background research and analysis, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ collective views about Indigenous land tenure reform and their aspirations for protecting and not diminishing their hard-won gains through native title determinations and statutory land rights grants or acquisitions; the composition and location of the Indigenous estate and
the land titling revolution that has taken place over the past 50 years; the geographic spread of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population around Australia and on the Indigenous estate; the origins of the Commonwealth’s Indigenous land tenure reforms from the Reeves Review of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) in 1997 and its trajectory to June 2016; the current land dealing provisions (private sale, leasing and mortgaging) in the statutory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land rights schemes and the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and how they facilitate or hinder economic development and/or private home ownership aspirations; and how the mainland states and the Northern Territory have (or have not) responded to the Commonwealth’s Indigenous land tenure reform agenda over the past decade.