Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president Chris Nott has addressed the Country Liberal Party in Alice Springs calling on political leaders to provide certainty to the Territory’s $1 billion beef industry in the face of testing Native Title claims.
“Recent proposed amendments within Northern Territory Government policy and within Federal law have brought a level of uncertainty in relation to security of land tenure and development unlike anything the industry has ever seen before,” Mr Nott said.
“These changes have the potential to impact on our Territory industry but also the cattle industry across Australia. To avoid this, the Territory pastoral industry requires clarity, security and certainty to enable and support growth and development.
“Instead, what we are facing are changes which will stifle economic development on the only industry which has managed to avoid the economic decline others are now in. Why any government would, it appears deliberately, set out to threaten a successful industry is beyond me.”
Mr Nott listed key issues as:
- The Native Title Act review and proposed amendments being looked at federally;
- The Timber Creek Native Title compensation hearing;
- The Beds, Banks, Intertidal Zones and the decisions relating to that;
- The proposed transfer of the Pastoral Estate to Native Title holders;
- The Strategic Indigenous Water Reserves;
- Native Title-rights to take and use resources; and
- Changes to the Pastoral Lands Act and non-Pastoral use providing greater procedural rights for Native Title holders causing subsequent delays and uncertainty around investment.
“Our industry is interwoven into the fabric of Territory society. Whether people realise it or not there is someone in their circle who benefits or has some contact with our industry – whether its logistics, retail, hospitality or safety,” Mr Nott said.
“The NTCA sees the proposed procedural changes to the PLA by the Gunner Government as a major overreach into federal Legislation – namely the Native Title Act. A veto within the Native Title Act does not exist. Such an inclusion sets a precedent for the rest of Australia and poses a major risk to the entire agriculture sector. The Federal Government should intervene now and make it clear such a provision is unacceptable in the Northern Territory.
“We believe when it comes to the longer-term issues of uncertainty around land tenure created by the court cases I’ve outlined, a new land tenure system which not only covers the pastoral estate but also indigenous owned land can be found.
“We don’t believe the land tenure system is working for indigenous people either and we think there is scope for us to find a mutual solution.”
To assist this cause, the NTCA wants a national advisory group of significant Australians established to look at the issue and generate solutions.
“Failing that, we will want to see pastoral land being turned into freehold land. It will give us greater certainty and we will avoid future debates surrounding economic development,” Mr Nott said.