The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) is the peak industry association representing exploration, mining and minerals processing companies in Australia.  MCA members account for more than 85% of annual minerals production in Australia and a slightly higher proportion of mineral exports. Members of the MCA recognise that industry’s engagement with Indigenous peoples needs to be founded in mutual respect and in the recognition of Indigenous Australian’s rights in law, interests and special connections to land and waters.  This point is made even more acute by the fact that more than 60% of minerals operations in Australia have neighbouring Indigenous communities.

The minerals industry is committed to working with Indigenous communities within a framework of mutual benefit, which respects Indigenous rights and interest. The MCA welcomes changes that improve the efficiency and operability of the Native Title system without diminishing the rights of Indigenous Australians. We support approaches that encourage negotiation and mediation in determining agreed outcomes with traditional custodians, in addition to promoting fair, transparent and timely decisions that do not impose unnecessary costs on those involved. 

In recent years, the MCA has advocated collaboratively with the National Native Title Council (NNTC) for a review of the functions of native title organisations given:

  • the need for adequate resourcing of those bodies to be able to undertake their native title responsibilities;
  • lack of clarity of roles particularly in a post determination native title context;
  • increasing numbers of bodies providing native title expert advice; and,
  • concerns that the standards of practice required of Government funded native title organisations are not applicable to all bodies providing expert advice in the sector.

MCA welcomes the Review which will examine whether the statutory roles and functions of Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs)/Native Title Service Providers (NTSPs) continue to meet the evolving needs of the system, particularly the needs of native title holders after claims have been determined and agreement beneficiaries .

However the MCA is also very aware that some of these issues, particularly those relating to rogue operators are being addressed in other reviews being conducted by other Government Departments.  The Minerals Council strongly recommends that the relevant recommended strategies are aligned across the reviews in order to minimise the potential for conflict or duplication.

The following comments are provided in response to a discussion paper prepared by Deloitte Access Economics in June 2013.

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