South Australia will pay compensation to the De Rose Hill Nguraritja people for the extinguishment of their native title rights and interests following the delivery of the Federal Court’s judgment in De Rose v State of South Australia  FCA 988 on Tuesday.
This case follows a 2005 determination that the De Rose Hill Nguraritja people hold native title over certain parts of the De Rose Hill pastoral lease located in far north South Australia.
The Nguraritja people successfully claimed compensation for the extinguishment of native title over certain land including a freehold lot, a highway corridor and a car park. This land would likely have formed part of the lands recognised to be the Nguraritja people’s native title lands but for the prior extinguishing grants. These places were said to hold special significance and be associated with dreaming stories and traditional law.
Under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (Act), the extinguishing grants were either category A or category B ‘past acts’ which were validated and accordingly, compensation was payable by the State pursuant to section 20 of the Act.
This case is significant as the first matter in which the Federal Court has ordered the payment of compensation under the Act.
That being said, its practical usefulness is limited as the matter proceeded by way of consent determination with the amount of compensation to be paid by the State confidential. This means that there is still no guidance from a court on how compensation under the Act is to be determined in the absence of parties reaching private consensual agreements. Neither other State’s or Territory’s nor native title claimants will be able to rely on this case in arguing for a particular method to determine the value of extinguished native title rights and interests.