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POWERS AND FUNCTIONS

The Powers and statutory functions of the ALC are detailed in Sections 23(1) and 27 of the (ALRA). Under this Act the ALC is responsible for assisting Aboriginal peoples of the Groote Archipelago of the Northern Territory to acquire and manage traditional lands and seas..

Section 27 of ALRA provides a broad power that:

Subject to ALRA, a Land Council may do all things necessary to be done to maintain the performance of its functions and may:

  • Employ staff
  • Obtain the advice and assistance of persons who are expert in any matter with which the Council is concerned (including assistance in connection with the administration of the affairs of the Council)
  • Receive moneys due and owing and give a valid discharge for those moneys
  • On the request of an Aboriginal corporation (ORIC) that has received an amount of money from the Council under this Act provide administrative or other assistance to the corporation.
  • Where ALC employs a person as a staff member, the terms and conditions of the person’s employment are such as are determined by the ALC from time to time
  • Where ALC obtains the advice and assistance of a person the terms and conditions of the engagement of that person are such as are approved by ALC.

FUNCTIONS UNDER SECTION 23 (ALRA)

In carrying out its functions, with respect to any Aboriginal land in its area, a Land Council must have regard to the interests of, and shall consult with, the traditional Aboriginal owners (if any) of the land and any other Aboriginals interested in the land and, in particular, shall not take any action, including, but not limited to, the giving of consent or the withholding of consent, in any matter in connection with land held by a Land Trust, unless the Land Council is satisfied that:

  • The traditional Aboriginal owners (if any) of that land understand the nature and purpose of the proposed action and, as a group, consent to it.
  • Any Aboriginal community or group that may be affected by the proposed action has been consulted and has had adequate opportunity to express its view to the Land Council.

Section 23 of ALRA specifies the functions of a Land Council:

  • To ascertain and express the wishes and the opinion of Aboriginals living in the area of the Land Council as to the management of Aboriginal land in that area and as to appropriate legislation concerning that land.
  • To protect the interests of traditional Aboriginal owners of, and other Aboriginals interested in, Aboriginal land in the area of the Land Council.
  • To assist Aboriginals in the taking of measures likely to assist in the protection of sacred sites on land (whether or not Aboriginal land) in the area of the Land Council.
  • To consult with traditional Aboriginal owners of, and other Aboriginals interested in, Aboriginal land in the area of the Land Council with respect to any proposal relating to the use of that land.
  • To negotiate with persons having estates or interests in that land with a view to the acquisition of those estates or interests by the Land Trust; and until those estates or interests have been so acquired, to negotiate with those persons with a view to the use by Aboriginals of the land in such manner as may be agreed between the Land Council and those persons (where the Land Council holds in escrow a deed of grant of land made to a Land Trust).
  • To negotiate with persons desiring to obtain an estate or interest in land in the area of the Land Council (where the land is held by a Land Trust, on behalf of traditional Aboriginal owners (if any) of that land and of any other Aboriginals interested in the land, where the land is the subject of an application then on behalf of the traditional Aboriginal owners of that land or on behalf of any other Aboriginals interested in the land).
  • To assist Aboriginals in the area of the Land Council to carry out commercial activities (including resource development, the provision of tourist facilities and agricultural activities), in any manner that will not cause the Land Council to incur financial liability or enable it to receive financial benefit.
  • for land that is a community living area and in the area of the Land Council—to assist the owner of the land, if requested to do so, in relation to any dealings in the land (including assistance in negotiating leases of, or other grants of interests in, the land).
  • To assist Aboriginals claiming to have a traditional land claim to an area of land within the area of the Land Council in pursuing the claim, in particular, by arranging for legal assistance for them at the expense of the Land Council.
  • To negotiate, and enter into (access) agreements.
  • To compile and keep a register recording the names of the members of the Land Council and a register recording the names of the members of the Land Trusts holding, or established to hold, Aboriginal land in its area and descriptions of each area of such Aboriginal land.
  • To supervise, and provide administrative or other assistance for, Land Trusts holding, or established to hold, Aboriginal land in its area.
  • Such other functions as are prescribed by regulations.
  • With the approval of the Minister, perform any functions that may be conferred on it by a law of the Northern Territory, including: the protection of sacred site access to Aboriginal land schemes for the management of wildlife on Aboriginal land

ALRA also imposes other requirements that impact on the role of the ALC. For example, section 35(4) requires that monies received in respect of 64(3) must be paid to or for the benefit of the Traditional Owners of the land within 6 months of receipt to Aboriginal Corporations.