“The native title system is  a tough system, which can be quite cruel. Native title is at the bottom of the hierarchy of Australian property rights.”

Fifteen years ago, Indigenous Australians had their rights to traditional lands and waters recognised when the Native Title Act began operation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said.  Mr Calma said like all milestones, it was a time for reflection on the Act’s mixed results throughout the last 15 years. The Native Title Act was passed by Parliament after the High Court rejected the doctrine of terra nullius in the famous Mabo decision.

“Passing of the Act was a momentous occasion in the relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, with the Australian Parliament recognising this country’s real history of dispossession and colonisation. Fifteen years later, and we can see some truly successful outcomes from the Native Title Act, such as the recognition of connection to land and the achievement of other beneficial agreements,” Commissioner Calma.

“We have also seen the broader Australian community change its understanding of native title and move away from a position of fear that native title would threaten suburban backyards toward a renewed reconciliation and the forging of stronger and closer relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.

“But on the other hand, the native title system is also a tough system, which at times can be quite cruel.

“Native title is at the bottom of the hierarchy of Australian property rights. It takes years before a court will recognise it; the compensation provisions have never been used successfully; and the more an Indigenous community has been affected by white settlement the less likely the law will recognise their native title rights,” Commissioner Calma said.    

“The result is that the Act today creates a system which offers extremely limited and delayed recognition of native title. It is now far from the original intent of the law.”

Mr Calma said there had also been increasing pressure on the system in recent times to provide better outcomes for Indigenous peoples. “The federal government has committed itself to forging a new, enduring relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which facilitates reconciliation. The native title system is one of the only legally entrenched systems through which this can be achieved,” he said.

“As a result, it holds many of the hopes and aspirations of Indigenous Australians. But as the Attorney-General has recognised, ‘tinkering at the edges is not enough’.”

“There is a pressing need for an over-arching, system-wide look at reforming the native title system to ensure the Act can provide the outcomes that are promised.

“We must now move towards a native title system that produces effective and timely recognition of native title rights and interests for those communities that can establish it, but also a system which guarantees a range of other outcomes if they can’t,” Mr Calma said.

5 replies »

  1. Mr Calma appears typical of the purchasable quantities known within the TRUE (ab)Origine communities around this land as coconut – brown on the outside and white in the middle.

    Not one black fella gave their consent, at community level for this man to talk for us

    He was appointed by the Commonwealth to speak for THEM AND THEM ONLY.

    Henmce Mr Calmas’ considereably ignorant comments about Native Title and its’ purported relevence to Our people.

    Mr Calma speaks of the Native Title Act as though it has EVER been of any value to TRUE (ab)Origines – not that he would know.

    Mr Calma says “Fifteen years ago, Indigenous Australians had their rights to traditional lands and waters recognised when the Native Title Act began operation” .

    Has this man become so enmeshed with the government that he really doesn’t know the truth any more – or is this merely a comment made to ensure his continued favour with the government that has so obviously bought and paid for his soul ?

    Native Title represents less than what we truely still possess – that is Our Sovereign title. We have NEVER CEEDED SOVEREIGNTY – and if Mr Calma thinks we have – maybe he can point out where and when this monumental event took place.

    Surely the point in time when our people supposedly sold Our collective souls, and went against EVERYTHING Our culture dictates to us in respect of the keeping of Our lands, the maintaining of Our spiritual links with that land by way of ownership and custodianship would have been a memorable event – yet not one mob has recorded when they or their ancestors supposedly handed things over.

    That is because it never happened.

    Mr Calma then says “There is a pressing need for an over-arching, system-wide look at reforming the native title system to ensure the Act can provide the outcomes that are promised.”

    Very clearly Mr Calma has forgotten the facts surrounding his own culture and is content to sell it out for the purchase price of a weekly wage – the rest of us are not prepared to do so.

    If Mr Calma really thinks that ANY review or ANY other method of rehashing a fraud (IE Native Title legislation) will result in ANY benifit for the true Sovereign (not “traditional”) owners he has been drinking from the parliament house bubbler too long and needs to give the job to someone with the testicular fortitude to stand up to the government and for his people.

    We must remember that until his appointment as the Social Justice Commissioner, Mr Calma managed the Community Development and Education Branch at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS) – this is the same body headed by the same Wayne Gibbons who misled the Senate in order to bring in the NT intervention.

    Now that is a testament to integrity isn’t it ?

    Mr Calma has been a career beaurocrat and his obvious aim is to “protect the system” – after all it IS the same system (of fraud and deception) whic pays his wage is it not ?

    People like Calma need to realise they DO NOT speak for Us – We did not appoint them – the government did – they therefore speak for the fraudulent government and its’ misrepresented perverted interests.

    The government must realise it CAN NOT appoint who speaks for us – only we can do that – otherwise those appointed speak for their appointers do they not ?

    If there is one thing Native Title DOES do – it makes it a whole lot easier for lay people to see the fraud the government is pulling.


    Now, Mr Calma, if you DO answer that one truthfully – publicly – you won’t be working for the government for very long will you ?

    Do you have the integrity to answer it ?

  2. Native Title was a con from the beginning and as such needs to be removed from the statute books and all copies as someone else suggested, burned or used as garden mulch in the parliament house gardens. There is no point fixing something which was planned from the outset to give the old nod to the mining big boys. The cats out of the bag and no one is taking it seriously any more, accept for the thousands of aboriginals receiving royalties from mines which have been site cleared. Royalties are one issue site clearances are another. Mines need to be assessed independantly and transparently for the benefit of all australians, the environment and the nation. Its great to hear Kokatha speak out and remind us that you can fool most of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time. Paul Keating the pig man did many crap things for Australia and Native Title was just one of them.

    Goodbye Native Title – we dont want this horrible policy anymore which divides family and community and consequently damages the environment and the nation.

    We need honest politics and honest decision making for the long term benefit of Australians rather than the short term (snout in trough) benefit of the corporations who have a few too many mates in Canberra.

  3. Nothing seems to be easier than seeing someone whom you can help but not helping.
    I suggest we start giving it a try. Give love to the ones that need it.
    God will appreciate it.

  4. The best thing about Tom Calma’s comment was the title, and Mr Calma, we dont want a review, we want native title GONE GONE GONE forever out of our faces, and people like you and Mick Dodson to stop talking sh1t! and start using your positions to start “DOING SOMETHING” about the real issues that are facing our people today, like Land Rights, Compensation and our title as the Sovereigns of this country.

  5. It looks like they dust this release down each year and just pass it around the politicians. Surprised ALRM haven’t noticed this.

    25-Jul-2008 WA
    Native title needs overhaul
    From ALRM Newsletter

    The National Native Title Council has said that the ‘native title process needs to be overhauled to give Aboriginal people a better chance of having connection to their traditional lands recognised.

    According to NNTC Chairman Brian Wyatt, ‘an overhaul would see stronger protection of Aboriginal land and customs and allow indigenous people to be economically independent sooner.’

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