THE FEDERAL Court will play a more significant role in Australia’s native title system under the new system to be brought in next year.
Making the announcement last week, Attorney General Robert McClelland said that the new system is aimed at encouraging more negotiated settlements of native title claims. The Federal Court will play a central role in managing these claims, deciding which should be referred for meditation, where mediation should occur, and which body — whether the Court or the Native Title Tribunal — should mediate.
“Negotiated agreements are the key to achieving practical outcomes in native title. This requires attitudinal change by all participants and a broader consideration of what parties can achieve through native title claims,” McClelland said.
“The [Federal] Court has significant alternative dispute resolution experience and has achieved strong negotiated results in past native title matters by taking a strong and active role in the mediation process. This change will give the Court control over all native title claims brought before it from start to end.”
Meanwhile, the National Native Title Tribunal will continue to provide services to facilitate mediation, and it will retain its other existing functions, including future act arbitration.
The new native title system is to be brought in by legislation which is due to be introduced into Parliament next year.