Exposure drafts of the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 and the Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate Legislation Amendment Regulations 2018 have been released for public comment. The reforms proposed relate primarily to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006.

The exposure drafts were developed following consultations in relation to the Options Paper – Proposed Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), released on 29 November 2017.

The proposed reforms were drawn from a number of reviews, including:

  • the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report ‘Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)’, from June 2015;
  • the Council of Australian Governments report, ‘Investigation into Indigenous Land Administration and Use’, from December 2015; and
  • the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporation’s Technical Review of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006, from 2017.

The proposed amendments cover a broad range of topics throughout the NTA, including: the role and powers of the native title applicant; validation of potentially invalid section 31 agreements; application of body corporate ILUAs to areas where native title is extinguished; disregarding of extinguishment in national parks and reserves; application of the future acts regime over areas where extinguishment of native title may be disregarded; and minor changes to the objections procedure under section 24MD(6B).

The deadline for submissions on the exposure drafts is 10 December 2018.

Following is a summary of the key amendments proposed.