Question in Senate re NLC and Muckaty

Muckaty Land Trust
(Question No. 1785)

Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 26 March 2012:
With reference to the contract signed in June 2007 by the Commonwealth Government, the Muckaty Land Trust and the Northern Land Council, regarding the location of a nuclear waste dump:
(1) Did the Northern Land Council receive a payment of $200 000 from the Commonwealth Government upon the acceptance of the Muckaty Land Trust nomination.
(2) Does the Northern Land Council have a responsibility or liability in relation to the receipt and disbursement of these funds.
(3) If traditional owner signatories wish to withdraw from the contract, will: (a) recipients of funds; and (b) the Northern Land Council, be required to repay funds from the initial disbursement of $200 000.

Senator Chris Evans: The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Disability Reform provides the following answer to the honourable Senator’s question:
(1) Yes. It is noted that the Northern Land Council (NLC) provided detailed advice regarding this payment in oral testimony on 30 March 2010 to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and in a written response dated 28 April 2010 to questions on notice from the Committee (Senator Ludlam and Senator Crossin).
(2) Under the deed, the NLC was responsible for the receipt and disbursement of the funds for the benefit of the traditional Aboriginal owners and other Aboriginals concerned in relation to the nominated site. The NLC detailed its fulfilment of that responsibility in its oral and written testimony to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in 2010. Accordingly, the NLC has no liability for these funds.
(3) (a) and (b) The site nomination deed was signed by representatives of the Commonwealth, the NLC and the Muckaty Aboriginal Land Trust, rather than by individual traditional owners in their own right. This accords with the structure and requirements of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. Accordingly, any question of individual traditional owners withdrawing from the deed (or associated liability as to payments received) does not legally arise.

From Hansard 10 May 2012