Calma warns against compromising Indigenous interests

HREOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma has warned against compromising Indigenous interests "in the rush" to resolve matters for mining and other economic interest groups.

In a statement dated 23/08/2006, Mr Calma said the proposed changes to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) to streamline the process for resolving native title claims, were "most welcome".

"However, we must not leave traditional landowners behind in the rush to finalise these claims," he said. "The government’s own review explains how complex it is to compile the relevant information for native title, so let’s be careful that we are not putting Indigenous people in an untenable situation.”

More resources needed to give Indigenous claimants equal bargaining power

Mr Calma said unlike mining companies and governments, Indigenous landowners do not have extensive resources to assist them with the legal requirements of native title.

“The government will need to provide a large increase in funds and expertise to native title claimants, Indigenous representative bodies and the Tribunal so that they can actively participate and provide their free, prior and informed consent to native title agreements,” Mr Calma concluded.

24 August, 2006

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