The Australian federal government recently tabled the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) for amendment in parliament.
The amendment seeks to place the financial resources of land councils under the control of the federal indigenous affairs minister, who will decide their level of funding, how they spend their money and also direct their resources. The current minister, Mal Brough, has also sought the power to delegate land council functions to other bodies created and funded by him.
Earlier, traditional owners had the right to veto mining, and land councils, financially independent of the government, protected their interests. But the amendment would take away the independence of the land council, a representative body with statutory authority under the act. While their right to veto will be preserved, their capacity to enact it will go.
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