Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt has welcomed today’s momentous decision by the High Court of Australia to dismiss all special leave applications challenging the registration of the six Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs), that form the South West Native Title Settlement.
The High Court’s decision means that all avenues for review of the Native Title Registrar’s decisions to register the ILUAs in October 2018, dismissed by the full Federal Court in late 2019, are now exhausted.
The ILUAs will become conclusively registered in late January 2021, 40 business days after the final legal proceedings are exhausted, meaning that the final condition for commencement of the Settlement is met.
Other conditions were met in 2016, when the Western Australian Parliament passed the Noongar (Koorah, Nitja, Boordahwan) (Past, Present, Future) Recognition Act, recognising the Noongar people as the Traditional Owners of the South-West, as well as other enabling laws to allow key elements of the Settlement to take effect.
The South West Native Title Settlement will resolve all native title claims in the South-West in exchange for around $1.3 billion in land and other benefits for Noongar people.
The Settlement will commence within 40 business days of conclusive registration, with assets beginning to flow to the Noongar Boodja Trust within 60 business days of its establishment following the Settlement commencement date.
The six Noongar Regional Corporations representing the rights and interests of the six ILUA groups will then be established, signalling the start of a new era of self-determination for the Noongar people.
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“I am enormously relieved to finally have this long running litigation conclude.
“The Noongar community has waited a long time for this moment. The High Court’s decision clears the way for this historic Settlement to finally begin.
“Native title has come a long way since the passage of the Native Title Act in 1993 and the Noongar Settlement shows how an innovative and meaningful agreement can re-set the relationship between Government and Traditional Owners.
“The Agreement provides significant opportunities for the Noongar people to achieve long-term, self-determining social, economic and cultural outcomes.
“The benefits of the Agreement have been long delayed by the now concluded litigation and I call on all Noongar people to unite behind the Settlement, join together in establishing strong Noongar Regional Corporations, and maximise the significant opportunities provided by the Settlement, for the benefit of the community as a whole.”