In 2005 the Attorney General announced an interconnected package of reforms to the native title system, focussing in particular on native title representative bodies, the claims resolution process in the National Native Title Tribunal and the Federal Court, prescribed bodies corporate, financial assistance for non-claimant groups, dialogue with the States and Territories, and technical amendments. Reviews in these areas informed the drafting of the Native Title Amendment Act 2007 (Cth) and the Native Title Amendment (Technical Amendments) Act 2007 (Cth), much of which came into force in April and September 2007.
This paper describes the reform process, and each Government, independent and parliamentary review of Government proposals, and the draft legislation. It focuses on the substantive changes to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and their effect on native title practice and outcomes. The paper addresses the implications of the reforms enacted, in particular the changes affecting native title representative bodies and prescribed bodies corporate, and the shifts in the functions of the National Native Title Tribunal and its relationship with the Federal Court. The amendments make substantive changes in relation to these areas, which go beyond making the system more efficient.