The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Jabiru) Bill 2020 (Cth) (the Bill) was introduced into Federal Parliament’s House of Representatives on 13 May 2020 by the Hon Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians.
The Bill proposes amendments to:
As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum, the proposed amendments contained in the Bill “will facilitate the grant of a section 19A township lease and the transfer of ownership of the Jabiru Township land to the traditional owners, the Mirarr people.”
The EM states the township of Jabiru was established in 1981 to service the Ranger Uranium Mine. Jabiru is part of Kakadu National Park, on freehold land leased from the Director of National Parks (“DNP”) to the Jabiru Town Development Authority (“JTDA”). The mine will cease operations by January 2021 and current leasing arrangements are set to expire on 1 July 2021.
If passed, the amendment to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 would allow the head lease of Jabiru to be held by a “community entity” of the Mirarr people for up to 99 years.
According to the, most Mirarr land is within the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park including the wetlands of the Jabiluka billabong country and the sandstone escarpment of Djidbidjidbi (Mount Brockman).
The Mirarr estate “extends beyond Kakadu to Western Arnhem Land and also includes the Ranger uranium mine, the Jabiluka mineral lease and the mining town of Jabiru”. Mirarr speak an average of three Aboriginal languages plus English.
Mirarr established the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (“GAC”) in 1995 to represent their rights and interests as well as receiving, distributing and investing royalties from the Ranger uranium mine which was imposed on Mirarr land in 1978.
Schedule 1 of the Bill proposes amendments to the following legislation:
In his speech, the Minister said:
ABC News reports that the organisation which is responsible for formulating the plan to revive the mining town said once the Bill passed, said it would "pave the way for future developments".
Justin O'Brien, CEO of the GAC, said:
Mr O’Brien said while the Bill's introduction had been a “long time coming”, he congratulated the Government “on ensuring these important amendments are made as a priority despite the current interruptions to Parliament”.
In a media release from the Northern Land Council (“NLC”), NLC Chairman, Mr Samuel Bush-Blanasi and Chief Executive Officer Ms Marion Scrymgour, welcomed the introduction of the Bill:
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Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Jabiru) Bill 2020 (Cth) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service
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