As the farce plays itself out in the Muckaty Federal court case with Northern Land Council politicians and bureaucrats telling First Peoples at Muckaty they do not know their own traditions, there is another aspect of this matter which is worthy of crtical attention.
This is the role of the Muckaty Land Trust, a body which holds title for the area of the former cattle station, now Aboriginal Land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act of 1976,
In the present Federal court case the legal representatives of the Northern Land Council are also representing the Muckaty Land Trust.
Given the large number of Warlmanpa people from Muckaty who are openly opposed to the present proposal to locate the national radioactive waste facilty at Muckaty, this is a curious combination.
The legislation setting up the Land Trusts says that they are “to exercise its powers as owner of land referred to in paragraph (a) for the benefit of the Aboriginals concerned”
Definition in ALR(NT) Act:
“Aboriginal” means a person who is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia.
Does the Muckaty Land Trust know better than the Warlmanpa people themselves what is really to their benefit?
By way of background:
ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS (NORTHERN TERRITORY) ACT 1976 – SECT 5
Functions of Land Trusts
(1) The functions of a Land Trust are:
(a) to hold title to land vested in it in accordance with this Act;
(b) to exercise its powers as owner of land referred to in paragraph (a) for the benefit of the Aboriginals concerned; and
(c) where the Land Trust is named as the grantee of land in a deed of grant held in escrow by a Land Council–to acquire, as and when practicable, the estates and interests of other persons in the land with a view to the surrender to the Crown of those estates and interests and the delivery to the Land Trust of the deed of grant held by the Land Council.
(2) A Land Trust:
(a) shall not exercise its functions in relation to land held by it except in accordance with a direction given to it by the Land Council for the area in which land is situated; and
(b) where such a direction is given to it–shall take action in accordance with that direction.
(3) The Lands Acquisition Act 1989 does not apply to the acquisition by a Land Trust, under this Act, of an estate or interest in land.
MUCKATY LAND TRUST MEMBERSHIP
For details of the Muckaty Land Trust membership (warning – contains the name of at least one deceased person since the information was provided) see the answer to the Question of Senator Ludlam.
“Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 24 March 2010:
(1) In accordance with the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (the Act), who were the trustees appointed as members and chair of the Muckaty Land Trust (the trust) by the Minister on the recommendation of the Northern Land Council (NLC) for the:
(a) 2008 09; and
(b) 2009 10, reporting periods.
(2) For each financial year from 1996 97 to 2006 07, who were the trustees appointed to the trust on the recommendation of the NLC by previous ministers.
(3) Does the Minister or the department have any information on what systems, timelines and processes the NLC has to ensure that membership of land trusts and statutory corporations recognised under the Act are up to date and compliant with the Act; if so, what are they.
Senator Chris Evans-The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: