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Native title

AGS has been involved in all the major native title cases since the Mabo decision in 1992. As such AGS has had a major role in developing the case law concerning native title. AGS acts for the Commonwealth in all native title claims brought under the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) to which the Commonwealth is a respondent. AGS begins by conducting searches with Commonwealth agencies to determine particular property interests as bases for the Commonwealth's joinder to the claims, and then represents the Commonwealth in the Federal Court and National Native Title Tribunal in those claims, advising as to their resolution by both mediation and, where necessary, litigation.

We also monitor all other claims in which issues might arise requiring the Commonwealth's involvement, either directly or indirectly.
AGS provides regular advice to the Attorney-General's Department on almost all aspects of the NTA. This includes advice on the overall operation of the NTA and proposed amendments to it, as well as issues that arise in respect of the actual or intended operation of the NTA during the progression of native title claims and agreement-making under it.

AGS lawyers were the principal legal advisers in relation to the development of the NTA in response to the Mabo decision, the Native Title Amendment Act 1998 in response to the Wik decision, and subsequent legislative changes. Our lawyers have a deep understanding of the Act, and in particular its implications for the Commonwealth. AGS has provided assistance to a number of Commonwealth agencies on the compliance with the NTA and dealing with native title and other land rights issues. This has included advice about land developments, including defence facilities, telecommunications facilities, remote housing and infrastructure, and scientific installations. It has also included advice about resource and environmental regulation and its relationship with native title and land rights regimes – and extensive advice about the processes and procedures under the NTA. We have assisted clients with managing the difficult issues which arise about the relationship between the NTA and other legislation, such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, Land Acquisition Act 1988, and other land, environmental and resources legislation.

Key provisions of the NTA concern ILUAs which enable the Act to be complied with through consensual arrangements with native title holders. AGS has assisted a range of agencies with regard to ILUAs – including on their requirements, developing and negotiating the agreements, managing the process and the issues which arise, and managing the registration process.

  Gordon Kennedy Senior Executive Lawyer 02 9581 7459
  Greg Prutej Senior General Counsel 02 6253 7481
  Alex Monk Senior Lawyer 08 8205 4210
  Sally Davis Senior Lawyer 02 9581 7526
  Andrew Chapman Senior General Counsel 02 6253 7206
  Helen Chisholm Senior General Counsel 02 6253 7588