Stage 2 Consultation Sunsetting Native Title Instruments
The submission to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) in response to the review of legislative instruments made under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA), which are due to sunset on 1 October 2023, was prepared by the Indigenous Legal Issues Committee (ILIC) of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Society of New South Wales (LSNSW), and the Queensland Law Society (QLS). This submission represents the Law Council’s preliminary views in response to the Consultation Paper published by AGD.
The Law Council welcomes the ongoing review and reform of the native title regime established pursuant to the NTA. As stated in the Law Council’s submission, dated 20 May 2022, to the initial consultation relating to the sunsetting of the above instruments, the Law Council continues to be guided by the core principles underpinning native title reform, including the need for authority, legitimacy and recognition of the communal character of native title law.1
As a general point, the Law Council wishes to emphasise that many native title applicants may be unfamiliar with the content of the native title instruments as well as native title legislation and decisions more broadly, given their complex and technical nature. The Law Council also notes some applicants may also speak English as a second or third language or otherwise experience English literacy or communication barriers, or have experienced prior disempowerment within Australia’s administrative or legal systems leading to confusion or undermining trust.2
1 Law Council of Australia, Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department, Sunsetting of Native Title Instruments (20 May 2022) <https://lawcouncil.au/publicassets/f61d1507-faed-ec11-9452-005056be13b5/2022%2005%2020%20-%20S%20-%20Sunsetting%20Native%20Title%20Instruments.pdf>.
2 Law Council of Australia, ‘The Justice Report’ (August 2018) <https://lawcouncil.au/justice-project/final-report>, 31.