Consistency with other policy settings

3.105   The National Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap) is an agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and all states and territories. It commits those governments to effort in seven areas, one of which is economic participation. The agreement notes that ‘access to land and native title assets, rights and interests can be leveraged to secure real and practical benefits for Indigenous people’.[164]

3.106   AIATSIS has argued that native title is significant for achieving the Closing the Gap targets:

Establishing a regime of native title rights that are clear, strong and economically valuable can, in turn, provide a resource base for Indigenous social and economic development.[165]

3.107   On the other hand, obtaining a determination of native title does not guarantee economic opportunity.[166] Much depends on whether the area is rich in minerals,[167] whether the group has an effective body corporate and good governance,[168] and the content of the rights themselves.[169]

3.108   Aboriginal leaders have emphasised the importance of using native title for economic development. Warren Mundine, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, said that native title rights, as well as compensation for loss of land, ‘can and should be used to generate commercial and economic development for Indigenous people through a real economy, real jobs and real for-profit businesses owned and operated by Indigenous people’.[170] Similarly, Wayne Bergman, CEO of Kred Enterprises, said:

Aboriginal culture cannot survive without an economy to support it. And to build a viable indigenous economy, we must be allowed to control our land and sea country and to use the leverage it gives us to build an economic foundation for our future.[171]

3.109   The ALRC has adopted as a guiding principle that ‘reform should promote sustainable, long-term social, economic and cultural development for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders’.[172]