Royal Commission ruled out for now?

Indigenous Australians Minister rules out judicial inquiry into Native Title


National News
REFORMS: Indigenous Australians Minister Key Wyatt's office spoke of new measures to increase transparency of Native Title corporations. The Minister is pictured at his swearing-in ceremony. The Sunday Age in Melbourne reported there is a push in South Australia for a Royal Commission into Native Title. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen.

REFORMS: Indigenous Australians Minister Key Wyatt's office spoke of new measures to increase transparency of Native Title corporations. The Minister is pictured at his swearing-in ceremony. The Sunday Age in Melbourne reported there is a push in South Australia for a Royal Commission into Native Title. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen.

Aa

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt responds to calls for a Royal Commission into Native Title.

Aa

The federal government says it has no plans for a Royal Commission into Native Title "at this time".

This comes after calls for an inquiry by Adnyamathanha people including Port Augusta-based Charlie Jackson and Gladstone's Enice Marsh.

Mr Jackson is chairman of the Aboriginal Reform Group that challenged the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association to hold a general meeting so that royalty payments from Beverley uranium mine could be clarified.

About 2000 Adnyamathanha are in the north of South Australia, mostly living in Port Augusta.

In response to questions from The Transcontinental, Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt's office pointed to plans to increase accountability and transparency of Native Title corporations.

Mr Wyatt's spokesman said that native title had been "part of Australia's legal system for more than 25 years".

"The recognition and exercise of native title rights contributes to economic, social and cultural improvements for Indigenous people," he said.

"Many native title groups have been able to use their rights to generate wealth. Each group decides how this wealth is managed and used.

"It is not unusual for there to be differences of views within a native title group about the exercise of rights or use of mining royalties. Any allegations of impropriety should be taken up with the relevant authorities.

"The government does not propose to comment on individual cases subject to legal proceedings."

In Melbourne's Sunday Age, Richard Baker reports that concerns over the distribution of the Beverley royalties are at the forefront of a broader push in South Australia for a judicial inquiry into the impact of Native Title with a particular focus on governance standards at indigenous corporations and spending on legal advice and action.

The newspaper said Mr Jackson was among senior SA indigenous leaders lobbying high-ranking politicians about the need for an inquiry.

He was joined by elders Chris Larkin and Mark Koolmatrie who are senior figures in different indigenous communities.

The newspaper says the trio agrees the Native Title process has increasingly become a lawyers' picnic.

"The inquiry needs to not only examine governance from the indigenous side, but also the role of lawyers and other paid advisers to see whether they have been working to frustrate the process of members getting access to the financial records of their representative bodies," said Mr Koolmatrie, a Kukabrak elder.

Former head of SA's Department of Premier and Cabinet, Ian Kowalick, said far too much money was being wasted on legal action instead of providing opportunities for traditional owners and their families.

"Significant money is pouring into indigenous organisations that could make an immediate difference to many lives, but far too much of this is being spend on fighting in and out of court," Mr Kowalick said.

Meanwhile, Adnyamathanha people in Port Augusta have launched a petition calling for a Royal Commission into Native Title.

Aa