Native title amendments passed, outlook positive for claims, PBCs

QSNTS has been working with the National Native Title Council (NNTC) to support law reforms aimed at improving the operating environment for both Native Title Claimants and Native Title Holders.

QSNTS is pleased to advise that, on 3 February 2021, many of those reforms were passed into law under the Native Title Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act), which amends both the Native Title Act 1993 (the Native Title Act) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).

The amendments improve the native title system by:

  • Facilitating greater flexibility for Traditional Owners to determine their own processes
  • Streamlining the native title claim resolution and agreement-making processes
  • Allowing historical extinguishment over areas of national and state parks to be disregarded where parties agree
  • Increasing transparency and accountability of RNTBC operations
  • Creating new dispute resolution pathways for disputes arising after a native title determination.

Importantly, the Amendment Act also confirms the validity of all section 31 agreements which may have been affected by the decision in McGlade v Native Title Registrar & Ors [2017] FCAFC 10 decision (McGlade).

The McGlade decision held that area Indigenous Land Use Agreeements (ILUAs) were invalid where not all members of the Applicant were party to the agreement. Section 31 agreements, relating primarily to the grant of mining and exploration rights over land affected by native title, could be among those agreements affected by the McGlade decision.

However, the Amendment Act confirms the validity of all section 31 agreements, providing certainty for Traditional Owners and limiting the risk of challenges to affected agreements.

A useful and detailed summary of the amendments can be viewed here and here.

Information for PBCs

To aid the implementation of the Amendment Act, the Australian Government also made changes to the Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations. The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has developed some resources to help Traditional Owners in understanding what the changes mean and what action must be taken.

These helpful tools can be downloaded below:

NIAA Fact Sheet: Information on Changes to Native Title Laws and Obligations


NIAA Discussion Paper: PBC Decision-Making, Certification and Fees for Service


For more information about the amendments or regulatory changes, please get in touch with the team at QSNTS by calling 1800 663 693.