ILC Chairperson, Mr Eddie Fry, has welcomed the Australian Government’s commitment to legislating significant reforms to the corporation’s legislation, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005.
“Two major reforms will be advanced: transferring management of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account (Land Account) to the Future Fund Agency and Board of Guardians, and enabling the ILC to invest in water-based projects—beyond land in its conventional sense,” Mr Fry said.
The ILC has long been advocating for these changes.
“In recent years, in the current low-interest-rate environment, the Land Account has been subject to low returns, because its investments are limited to cash and cash-like investments,” Mr Fry said
In June 2016, the ILC Board established an Expert Advisory Panel to analyse the financial trajectories of the Land Account, and to provide advice on alternative arrangements. The panel found that, if the current low returns and annual payments to the ILC were maintained, the Land Account would most certainly erode in value, compromising its ability to deliver on its legislated mandate.
Both the ILC and the Land Account, the ILC’s principal source of income, were legislated as part of the negotiated package after the Mabo judgment in 1992 recognised native title.
The ILC’s functions are to acquire land for grant to Indigenous corporations and to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to manage their land, however that land was acquired. The land acquisition function was intended as partial compensation for those whose native title rights had most likely been extinguished.
Last year the ILC undertook a nation-wide consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in partnership with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The results of these consultations were strongly positive. Indigenous Australians overwhelmingly saw the need to preserve, and if possible grow, the capital balance of the Land Account, ensuring its sustainability and ability to support land acquisition and land management for future generations.
“They also told us that in Indigenous culture land and water are continuous and that the ILC should be in the business of providing Indigenous benefits from salt and fresh water country,” Mr Fry said.
“The ILC will now focus its efforts on working with the Government to ensure the intent and purpose of the Land Account is retained in the legislative process. Transferring management to the Future Fund will broaden the investment parameters of the Land Account, without significantly increasing risk, and help ensure that it remains a perpetual fund for future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Fry continued.
Mr Fry thanked the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for their support and cooperation over the past year as well as members of the ILC Board and key Executives for their leadership in this matter.
The ILC Board extends special thanks to the Expert Advisory Panel: David Murray (Chair), Glen Brennan, Elayne Grace, Doug McTaggart, Bill Moss and John Maher, for their professional report on the future of the Land Account.
“The ILC now looks forward to cooperating with the Australian Government in unlocking the value of the Indigenous Estate.”
The ILC assists Indigenous Australians to buy and manage land. It was established in 1995 as part of the Keating Government’s response to the Mabo judgment (1992) which recognised common law native title rights to land. Both the ILC and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account (Land Account) were intended as a partial response to Indigenous dispossession, in particular, to assist those who were unlikely to benefit from the Native Title Act 1993.
Under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act2005 the ILC’s purpose is:
(a) To assist Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to acquire land; and
(b) To assist Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to manage Indigenous-held land so as to provide economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits for Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders.
The ILC receives an annual allocation of $45 million from monies generated by the Land Account. This funds the ILC’s operating costs as well as its land acquisition and land management work. The Land Account balance at 30 June 2016 was $2.023 billion. The ILC does not administer Land Account investments. This is done by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet under delegation from the Finance Minister.
The ILC is able to set up subsidiaries to perform its functions. With the ILC, the following wholly-owned subsidiary companies, each with its own board and management, form the ILC Group:
- Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia Pty Ltd which owns and manages Ayers Rock Resort, NT, and manages two other tourism enterprises developed by the ILC
- Australian Indigenous Agribusiness Company Pty Ltd which manages 14 ILC-developed agribusinesses, 13 in the northern Australian beef industry head cattle and one lamb and wool business in Tasmania
- National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) Ltd which manages the ILC-developed social enterprise of the same name in Redfern, Sydney, NSW.
For more media information, please contact
Kate Alderton | Executive Director | Indigenous Land Corporation | www.ilc.gov.au
P: 08 8100 7307 | 0428 236 738
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