As discussed in our previous alert, the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 was introduced to address the Federal Court’s decision of McGlade v Native Title Registrar [2017] FCFCA 10. It was important for the bill to pass in order to address the uncertainty created and the additional costs likely to be incurred as a result of McGlade, particularly in relation to the signatures of registered native title claimants (RNTCs) required for the validity of the registration of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA).

Validation of existing agreements

If you had:

  • entered into a native title agreement on or before 2 February 2017;
  • not obtained all of the signatures of the registered native title claimants before applying to have the agreement registered as an Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA); and
  • concerns that your agreement was invalid as a result of the McGlade decision,

these amendments will fully ease your concern. As a result of these amendments, your agreement is deemed to have always been an ILUA.

The amendments in summary

Other key amendments to the Native Title Act include:

  • There is no longer a requirement to obtain the signatures of all members of a RNTC to enable agreements to be registered by the Native Title Registrar on the Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements;
  • You now only need a majority of the RNTCs to sign an ILUA for it to be registrable; and
  • Agreements not signed by all RNTCs purported to be registered, or for which application for registration has been made, are now either restored to the Register of ILUAs or cleared for assessment for registration by the Native Title Registrar.

What happens now?

This bill was originally tabled in the House of Representatives on 15 February 2017, and has successfully been passed by the Senate on 14 June 2017. It will now return to the House, hopefully within the next week.