Under amendments to the land dealing provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) and the Aboriginal Land Rights Regulation 2002 that came into force on 31 March 2010, investigators and administrators are to be engaged by the NSW Government.
In New South Wales, Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) are established under the ALRA as the elected representatives for Aboriginal people in NSW. There are a total of 121 LALCs divided into nine regions, Sydney/Newcastle, North Western, Northern, South Coast, North Coast, Western, Central, Central Coast and Wiradjuri.
These new provisions of the ALRA make fundamental changes to the way that the LALCs are required to go about handling land dealing proposals. LALCs must now apply to the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council for approval of almost all land dealings (s 42F ALRA). If the NSW Aboriginal Land Council approves of a LALC land dealing then it is to issue an approval certificate (s 42K ALRA). Pursuant to s 42G ALRA, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council may refuse to approve a land dealing if it considers it contrary to the interests of the members of the LALC or other Aboriginal persons within the area of that Council.
According to a government statement:
“The NSW Government strongly supports the principles of self-determination and self-management for NSW Aboriginal communities … [but] In some cases, if there is no other way to deal with serious financial or administrative problems at a Land Council, then the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs may consider appointing an Investigator or Administrator.”
The NSW Government is currently seeking to appoint independent investigators and administrators to assist with the resolution of problems identified in the management of Local Aboriginal Land Councils.