Over the last decade, the Australian Government has spent tens of millions of dollars on the introduction of land tenure reform in communities on Aboriginal land. It has currently committed a further $17M to township leasing and land administration reforms and up to $10.6M on tenure reform pilot projects. The stated rationale for these reforms has evolved over time, and current explanations focus on improving transaction times and enabling 'long-term, tradable tenure'. This presentation will describe the particular choices that have been made with respect to reforms such as township leasing and housing changes. Those reforms do something different to what is suggested in government publications, and in particular take a different approach to the economy of remote communities. The changes they implement are nevertheless significant and reflect ongoing shifts in the way that governments are approaching their role in Aboriginal communities.
Dr. Leon Terrill is a senior lecturer in the UNSW Law School, a research director at the Indigenous Law Centre and general editor of the Australian Indigenous Law Review. He previously worked as a senior lawyer with the Central Land Council and has published and presented widely on Indigenous land and tenure reform.