Who manages Aboriginal reserves and are those reserves a secure title?
What is a Management Order?
A Management Order gives the care, control and management of a reserve to a local government authority, State government agency or an Aboriginal organisation (a Management Body). Management must be in keeping with the reserve’s purpose (the purpose for which the Crown land was set aside and made into a reserve). Management Orders are issued by the Minister for Lands under the Land Administration Act. Management Orders are registered on a Certificate of Crown Land Title.
Can Management Orders be taken away?
Management Orders can be taken away (revoked) if the Management Body of the reserve wants that to happen. This may be because the Management Body does not want to have the care, control and management of the reserve any more. It can also happen if a reserve has been mismanaged or if it is in the public interest to take it away. It is not common for Management Orders to be taken away. When it does happen, it is usually at the request of the reserve’s Management Body.
What is meant by ‘power to lease’?
A Management Order may allow the Management Body to lease (or rent out) the reserve. This will mean that the Management Body has the power to lease. Most Management Orders grant the Management Body a power to lease all or a part of the reserve.
But this power depends on the Management Body being able to lease in its own right (in other words if it had power to lease before it got Management Orders). For example, say that a government department has a Management Order over a reserve, but the legislation creating that department never gave the Minister or anyone else in that department the power to lease land. In this case, the power to lease cannot be included in the Management Orders for that reserve.
So a Management Body can lease (rent out) a reserve if it has the power to lease land and if the Management Orders say it can lease the reserve. But even if the Management Body can lease a reserve, the lease must be consistent with the purpose of the reserve (in other words the purpose for which the Crown land was made into a reserve).
Are Native title rights and interests affected when reserves are transferred?
A change in the Management Body changes the group that has the care, control and management of the reserve but does not affect native title rights or interests. Where a Management Body has a power to lease the reserve and does lease (or rent) the reserve, any leases in place will remain in place when control of the reserve is transferred to a new Management Body. This continuation of a lease under a new Management Body will not affect native title rights or interests. A new Management Body may also give new leases where the Management Orders contain a power to lease. Any new leases issued have some potential to affect native title rights or interests but would not extinguish (or destroy) native title under the Native Title Act.