Practical implications of the Griffiths decision

The event is a workshop conducted by the National Native Title Tribunal. The recent decision of Griffiths v Northern Territory (No 3) [2016] FCA 900 is the first publicly available judicial analysis of the quantum of compensation payable by Government for the historical impact of grants on native title rights and interests. This workshop will address the implications of the decision from the perspective of proponents and indigenous claimants and will cover:

  • a summary and analysis of the decision;

  • identifying whether there is a link between economic value of land and the 'solatium' for the impairment of traditional rights;

  • what issues face indigenous claimants (including the relevance of s47, s47A and s47B in determining the 'base point' for assessment of compensation);

  • whether the existing 'flow through' provisions in respect of compensation (including under statute or by agreement) will be effective in passing compensation obligations through to tenure holders;

  • where native title agreement 'release and indemnity' provisions 'fit' in the overall compensation picture.

About the speakers

Introduction by Raelene Webb QC, National Native Title Tribunal President. Raelene Webb holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physics from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland. She was appointed President of the National Native Title Tribunal in 2013 after a distinguished career as a barrister, and is recognised as one of the leading native title silks in Australia.

Prior to her appointment to the Tribunal, she appeared as lead counsel in many native title and Aboriginal land matters and advised upon, and appeared in the High Court, in most land‐mark cases on the judicial interpretation and development of native title law since the Mabo decision in 1992. Raelene is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and was awarded the Law Council of Australia President's Medal in 2014, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Australia.

Raelene is in great demand as a public speaker on a range of topics, native title matters especially, and has presented or chaired sessions at various conferences throughout Australia and internationally, including at the 2015 and 2016 Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty held in Washington DC.

Alan Griffiths is an Applicant in the Timber Creek compensation case. He is a native title holder for the township of Timber Creek and is respected as a senior lawman with authority throughout the Victoria River and Kimberley regions. In 2015, Alan was awarded a State Living Treasure by the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts for his contribution to art and culture.

Lorraine Jones is an Applicant in the Timber Creek compensation case. She is a native title holder for the township of Timber Creek and a director of the Bradshaw & Timber Creek Contracting Company.

Marshall McKenna is a leading native title lawyer, who has acted for proponents, government and claimant groups. With 25 years of experience Marshall focuses on native title, environment, planning and other land access issues in addition to intellectual property, privacy and Freedom of Information issues.

He was counsel for Western Desert Land Aboriginal Corporation in the landmark Holocene decision. Marshall has been a key advisor to CITIC Ltd in its disputes with Mineralogy Pty Ltd and Clive Palmer, BHP and other resource companies as well as advising the State of Western Australia in relation to native title and rectifying environmental approvals in relation to the James Price Point Development.

Marshall lectures in Mining and Petroleum Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia and has lectured in Equity at that institution and at the University of Western Australia.

Rebecca Hughes is the solicitor at the Northern Land Council with responsibility for the carriage of the Griffiths matter. Her practice involves matters under both the Native Title Act and Aboriginal Land (Northern Territory) Act. Prior to working with the Northern Land Council, Rebecca practiced in native title and environmental law at Ashurst Australia, as in‐house counsel at Telstra and at the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in Katherine.