Applicant can act by majority

Recommendation 10–6           The Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) should be amended to provide that the applicant may act by majority, unless the terms of the authorisation provide otherwise.

10.81   The present state of the law is that a claim group may authorise an applicant to act by majority.[98] However, where the terms of the authorisation are silent, an applicant must act jointly.[99] The ALRC recommends that this default position should be reversed to provide that where the terms of the authorisation are silent, the applicant may act by majority.

10.82   This recommendation is intended to address the situation where the claim group (or Working Group, Steering Committee, or other delegated decision-making body) has directed the applicant to take some action under the Act, but only some members of the applicant are willing to act on the direction. The ALRC considers that a minority of members of the applicant should not be able to frustrate the will of the entire claim group. Most stakeholders agreed with this approach,[100] although some were concerned that a majority approach could cause divisions among members of the applicant,[101] or that majority decision-making is not consistent with s 61 of the Native Title Act.[102]

10.83   Currently, if all of the members of the applicant do not sign a future act agreement, whether because of remoteness, incapacity or a dispute, an application must be made to the NNTT for a consent determination. The Tribunal submitted that allowing the applicant to act by majority, in the absence of specific authorisation to do so, ‘may assist with the early resolution of future act matters appearing before the tribunals for determination, simply because an individual named applicant refuses to sign an agreement, the claim group has authorised’.[103]