The ILC Chairperson, Eddie Fry, has welcomed last week’s tabling of proposed legislation to set up an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea1 Future Fund and to extend the ILC’s sphere of operations to water, both inland and out to sea.
“This is an historic moment for the ILC as we have long advocated for these reforms, and last year undertook very positive consultations with Indigenous people on the issues involved,” the Chairperson said.
“The draft legislation will establish a Land and Sea Future Fund, managed by the Future Fund Management Agency and Board of Guardians.
“The establishment of the ILC and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account signalled an important milestone for Indigenous land rights and self-determination in 1995. These reforms will help to ensure that the capital fund supporting the growth, development and protection of land within the Indigenous estate will not erode and is projected to increase in the longer term.
“Renaming the ILC as the ‘Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation’ and enabling the corporation to pursue water-based projects acknowledges that Indigenous people have recognised interests in salt and fresh water country, and view land and water as continuous.”
The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, introduced three Bills to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 28 March 2018 that together give effect to these reforms.
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, had previously announced the Australian Government’s intention to legislate with the tabling of the Closing the Gap report in February this year.
“I thank the Minister and his department for their efforts in cooperation with the ILC to make the changes necessary to secure and expand our resources and extend our activities to water-based activities,” Chairperson Fry said.
“We urge all parliamentarians to support swift passage of these Bills and to ensure the original intent of the ILC’s enabling legislation is protected in order to provide a unique and special land and sea fund for the benefits of future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
1 ‘Sea’ by definition relates to both fresh and salt-water rights and activities.
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Indigenous Land Corporation
The reform of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (ATSI Act) is to be enacted through three separate Bills:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund Bill 2018—which establishes the new Fund
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2018—which makes necessary amendments to a number of existing Acts
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Amendment (Indigenous Land Corporation) Bill 2018—which renames the ILC and enables it to perform functions in relation to water (including ground and surface water) where the Commonwealth, States or Territories have sovereign rights.
About the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC)
The ILC strategically invests in Indigenous held land and waters to foster prosperity and empowerment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The ILC aims to create economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits by assisting in the acquisition and management of land (and waters) of the Indigenous Estate.
This includes economic independence (in particular jobs for Indigenous people); cultural identity and connection to country; and environmental sustainability.
The ILC 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.
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.