PGA snubbed in NT review talks

24 Apr, 2001 10:00 PM
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THE scope for co-operation between government and Native Title claimants is one issue that will be considered as part of a review into Native Title negotiating principles.

The state government last week launched an expert review of native title issues in a bid to speed up settlement of WA's 130 Native Title applications.

But long time advocates of improving the Native Title system the Pastoralists and Graziers Association is very disappointed they weren't involved in the government's original discussions.

PGA president Barry Court said other groups such as aboriginal groups had been spoke to a great deal "but we haven't been consulted".

"If you're only talking to one side then you're only going to get one side's decision".

While Mr Court was pleased that the government hoped to stabilise the Native Title issue and hoped its would achieve a smoother passage for Native Title, he hoped it wasn't just talk "that we've all heard before".

"Everything will be revised and then six months down the track we'll go back to where we are now. We want to avoid that".

Deputy Premier Eric Ripper announced the review last week saying it honoured an election promise to over haul the previous government's policy guidelines.

Other issues to be considered during the review include the level of evidence required in reports on indigenous connection to country, and the potential for joint planning and prioritisation of claims.

The applicability of negotiation principles and practices of other states will also be issues considered.

With only two claims settled in the past eight years and a further 39 heading for trial in the federal court - four times more than any other state and territory put together - Mr Ripper the cycle of antagonism, litigation and higher court appeals had to stop.

"WA needs a balanced approach to native title which respects the interests of all people. The review will provide the government with recommendations on the best way to achieve an environment where native title agreements are the norm rather than the exception," he said.

Former Rio Tinto vice president Paul Ward will head the review, with the final reports expected to be delivered by the end of July.

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