How can the type of interest in land be changed?
The transferrals of land by the ALT are meant to take the land held by the ALT (of all different types of interest in land, freehold, leasehold or reserve) and simply hand it to the Aboriginal people so that they will have the interest in land themselves. Remember that land titles (such as freehold or leasehold) are different from native title which is not granted by the Crown (see fact sheet on land titles for more information).
There are a number of options that can be considered when transferring land to Aboriginal communities. In the end, it will be a community decision as to what form of tenure best suits the circumstances of the local people. These include-
- keeping the same tenure as presently held by the ALT (mostly reserves). Some communities are happy to stay with a reserve because they feel comfortable with this type of land tenure and the fact that it does not usually attract the payment of Shire rates.
- reserve land remaining under the care, control and management of the ALT and the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority in the circumstance where the land is "proclaimed" under Part III of the AAPA Act. Proclaimed reserves give special protection in terms of access by miners and non-Indigenous people.
- cancelling reserves and negotiating a different form of land tenure ranging from perpetual leases to conditional freehold. Such change would be dependent on consultation with native title holders or native title claimants. The change in the land tenure would also depend on consent being given by the Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources, particularly conditional freehold which may restrict access for prospecting and mining purposes.
- cancelling existing tenures and protections and allowing the land to revert (go back) to unallocated Crown land with a determination of exclusive native title over the area.
What are the town-planning issues in converting interests in land?
Regional and town planning schemes control the manner in which land can be used. The schemes are administered by local government authorities (Shire Councils) and can cover towns, specific areas and individual communities. Issues for consideration when changing land interests can include:
- How close the land that is being transferred is to land that has other uses which may not be the same. For example, where an Aboriginal community exists near a planned industrial estate, this would affect the community's ability to receive a long term leasehold or a freehold title.
- The provision of public road access. A general planning requirement is that freehold lots are to have legal access usually by public road. Such access is provided by local governments. Where a lease is being issued, legal access can be achieved by providing an access easement as part of the lease.
- The need to provide community schools and hospitals.
- The need for sewerage facilities, water and electricity.