Press Release

Sheldon_mumby

NATIVE TITLE CHANGES MUST INCLUDE JUSTICE FOR ALL SAYS PGA

2012-06-05

Western Australian pastoralists are concerned that the Labor Government’s proposed changes to the existing Native Title system will cause numerous delays and will unfairly deny respondents with the same access to justice as claimants.

 

“While we applaud Attorney General Nicola Roxon’s vision of a Native Title system that is for better, faster outcomes, there are numerous concerns that proposed changes to the system may unfairly leverage Native Title claimants to the behest of pastoral respondents,” PGA spokesman Sheldon Mumby said.

 

“Labor has already attempted to clear a backlog of claims before the courts by moving the mediation process from the National Native Title Tribunal to the Federal Court and is now considering removing the onus of proof to connection with the land, as well as the existing funding scheme for Native Title respondents.”

 

“Pastoralists hold existing interests in land concurrently with Native Title holders.  As such they have a real interest in Native Title claims and, like Native Title holders, should be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard in Federal Court Native Title proceedings.”

 

“Reversing the onus on claimants to prove connection to the land has the potential to create further backlogs through opening the door to numerous other parties outside of the original claimants.”

 

“And without financial assistance from the Attorney General, pastoralists, their representative bodies and their legal advisors will be unable to continue in their role as coordinating the pastoral response to Native Title claims.”

 

“Individuals or family businesses hold the majority of pastoral leases and as such it is practically and financially difficult for most pastoralists to participate in native title proceedings, or secure qualified legal representation, which will disadvantage both pastoralists and the claims process.”

 

“Any changes to the Native Title system must ensure that all parties, including respondents, are treated fairly and equitably and that access to justice is not compromised by further Government quick fixes.”

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