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ATNS mining agreements symposium: build relationships

Brian Wyatt from the National Native Title Council talks tax reform

I settled into the Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements Symposium on Indigenous Peoples, Economic Empowerment and Agreements with Extractive Industries held at the University of Melbourne on 25-26 June 2013.

After a heartfelt welcome from Wurrundjeri man Colin Hunter Jnr, who left us gum leaves to carry with us, we heard from a range of speakers about improving land use agrements by implementing international obligations, designing a good process and doing practical stuff on the ground.

But what struck through the presentations was the emphasis on building a relationship as you go. If a mining company doesn’t bring the mob with them, the agreement won’t work.

Couldn’t agree more. That’s why we certainly focus on planning and process when talking to groups about carbon farming. And that’s why we want to focus our not-for-profit business on building relationships between corporate Australia and Aboriginal carbon projects on the ground.

There was also talk about the difficulty or leveraging native title and treating native title similar to other land interests. It is interesting to note that the carbon farming legislation already provides equal footing to native title: exclusive native title holders can do a project without needing a lease or other rights, and any determined native title holders have a right to consent to a project on shared land – that’s right, a right to consent or veto, not just a right to negotiate.

Looking forward to the first carbon farming agreements!

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