To Lease or Not to Lease? The Leasing of Indigenous Statutory Lands in Australia: Lessons from Canada
Commonwealth Law Bulletin, 35 3: 545-570
Posted: 25 Jun 2015
Date Written: 2009
In Australia, land rights legislation provides statutory schemes for the transfer of land to Indigenous peoples. The first significant land rights legislation was passed by the Australian Commonwealth government in 1976. This was the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act (ALRA) 1976 (Cth). In 2006, the Australian Commonwealth government passed significant amendments to the ALRA. One of the key amendments introduced the leasing of Aboriginal ‘township lands’ held under that Act. It is these leasing amendments which are a focus of this article. A primary motivation behind the amendments was to decrease poverty in Indigenous communities and to allow for economic development on Aboriginal lands. This article critiques the township leasing scheme under the amended Act. It questions whether the new leasing arrangements are the most appropriate forms of leasing to achieve economic development on Aboriginal lands and to benefit the Aboriginal communities who hold these lands. In 2008, leasing amendments were passed to Queensland’s statutory land scheme in the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld) and these amendments are subject to review in this article. Furthermore, the article examines alternative forms of leasing used for economic development on Indigenous reserve lands in Canada and whether there are lessons that Australia could learn from these tenures and their modes of leasing.
JEL Classification: k00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation