Mr Eddie Fry, Chairperson of the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), today welcomed the Senate’s passage of legislation to assure, and extend, the corporation’s operations to benefit Indigenous Australians.
The ILC is currently responsible for acquiring, granting and managing Indigenous held land to create economic, environmental, cultural and social benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is an historic day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” Mr Fry said. “I thank the Parliamentarians, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, who have overwhelmingly supported the package of three Bills introduced by the Government in March this year.”
Under the legislation passed today, the organisation will also be given the mandate to support water-based projects, both on land and out to sea.
At a time where we pay tribute to the remarkable Bonita Mabo and her contribution to the recognition of native title, today is particularly poignant. Since its inception in 1995 the ILC has paid homage to the Mabo judgment as the catalyst for the establishment of the Land Account and the ILC. We commence our new journey into land and sea with a renewed gratitude and respect for the tireless efforts and sacrifices of the Mabo family.
Mr Fry said the corporation would be renamed the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC), that will come into effect mid 2019.
“In the Indigenous worldview, land and water are continuous, so this change to our mandate will allow us to better assist Indigenous people to reconnect with and care for water country,” Mr Fry said.
“Our expanded operations will now enable us to invest in water-based projects in partnership with Indigenous groups, which could include purchase of commercial fishing licences or allocations in water markets.
“It will allow us to respond to the growing needs of Indigenous people as well as social, cultural, environmental and economic opportunities that land and water ownership can bring”.
Mr Fry said the three Bills passed today would also broaden the ILC’s main source of income through the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund, replacing the Land Account.
“In recent years returns from Land Account investments, restricted by legislation, had been insufficient to maintain its capital base while providing a fixed annual allocation to support the ILC’s land acquisition and land management functions,” Mr Fry said.
“This reform will enable the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund to be invested by the Future Fund Board of Guardians, increasing its returns and allowing funds held in perpetuity for Indigenous Australians to grow in line with mainstream long-term investments managed by the Future Fund.
“With our financial position more secure, we will be better able to take on the expanded responsibilities that have also been legislated.”
The ILC was instrumental in advocating for the changes embodied in the three Bills.
With the backing of Senator the Honourable Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the support of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the ILC undertook extensive and positive consultations on the issues with Indigenous people last year, including consultations with more than 75 Indigenous groups, across 11 locations. Mr Fry thanks the Minister for his support and commitment to this important reform.
“I thank the Board and staff of the ILC for their work in advancing these reforms, and the Australian Government for its commitment to enact them,” Mr Fry said.
“The Indigenous Land Corporation looks forward to realising the many benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians that will flow from them.”
The reform package comprises the:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2018
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund Bill 2018
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Amendment (Indigenous Land Corporation) Bill 2018
In 2017 the ILC, with the support of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, undertook a series of consultations on these two key changes. Sixteen consultations were undertaken in 11 locations across Australia, involving more than 75 Indigenous organisations. In addition, 24 submissions were received as part of the open submission process.
The consultations identified strong support for the changes being made:
- 75 per cent of the consultation sessions provided consensus support for both areas of proposed reform
- More than 85 per cent of sessions provided consensus support to the reform of management and governance arrangements for the Land Account
- Unanimous support for reform to the investment mandate of the Land Account was expressed in those written submissions that dealt with this issue
- Of the 17 submissions that addressed both issues, 77 per cent gave support to both changes
The ILC Board and Executive team are working through the strategic, policy and operational changes that will be required as part of this expanded role and a Water Strategy is expected to be ready for implementation shortly after the passage of the legislation.
Once the legislative changes have been made, the ILSC will be required to prepare National and Regional Land and Sea strategies. Consultation on these strategies will form part of the Water Strategy and will help to inform the ILSC’s role in water.
Key ILC Facts and Figures:
|Achievement Category||Over the life of ILC Operations|
|Invested in the Indigenous Estate||$1.0 billion|
|Properties returned to the Indigenous Estate through acquisition||257 properties (covering six million hectares)|
|Properties granted to Indigenous Corporations through divestment||197 properties|
|Acquired properties granted to Indigenous corporations||75%|
|Jobs enabled by ILC-funded projects in past ten years||+12,000|