A coalition of 16 rural councils in the Western Australia wheat belt made Australian history when it became the largest group of councils to sign an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) (ILUA), covering more than 40,000 sq kilometres.
Taylor Linfoot & Holmesacted for the councils, which make up the Central Country Zone of the WA Local Government Association, and partner Marcus Holmes said it was the first time all the members of a local government zone had worked together to sign an ILUA. The agreement was made with five Noongar native title claim groups, the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) and the State Government.
“This is a good example of where native title is now, and the more pro-active ways that native title can be dealt with in Australia,” Holmes said. “The negotiations that led to this agreement were really driven from the bottom up, from the councils, the Noongar Community and the Land Council. They put the proposition to the State Government … and the State realised that this model was workable.” He said the deal has the potential to make the State’s own processes more workable.
Other land developers will be alerted to the ILUA by the State and advised to consult with SWALSC and the claimants. Incentives for entry into the ILUA include its replacement of the Native Title Act “future act” regime, which requires notification and extensive negotiation where a proposed Crown land acquisition or works might impact on native title.
Another coalition of 16 councils is looking to negotiate an ILUA, which could lead to an area a quarter of the size of WA being covered by the agreements.