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Joint media release
25 November 2009
The Australian and Northern Territory Governments and the Mirarr traditional owners today reached a landmark settlement agreement in the Jabiru native title claim.
The claim, situated within the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, includes the Jabiru township and is the longest-running native title claim in the Northern Territory.
Under the agreement, Mirarr traditional ownership will be recognised by a grant of Aboriginal land under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act, with an immediate 99 year leaseback of the Jabiru township to the Executive Director of Township Leasing.
Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said the historic agreement concluded committed negotiation by all parties to produce an outcome that recognises the Mirarr people’s relationship to country, and to support ongoing development in the town.
"This agreement is a further example of the significant results that can be achieved in negotiation rather than litigation, and the Australian and Northern Territory Government’s commitment to taking a more flexible approach in native title claims to help close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians," Mr McClelland said.
The Australian Government recognises the support which Energy Resources of Australia Limited - the operator of the nearby Ranger uranium mine - has given to the Mirarr claim and this agreement.
Mr McClelland said the strong relationship between the Mirarr and ERA was an example of how native title can help achieve practical reconciliation.
The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, congratulated the traditional owners on negotiating a town leasing agreement which would provide a strong vehicle for ongoing economic development and investment. The settlement will lay the foundation for Jabiru to fulfil its potential as a regional hub for the Alligator Rivers region.
"The lease, agreed in consultation with Mirarr traditional owners, will be the foundation for future economic and social development within the town to provide the infrastructure and services necessary to develop Jabiru as a thriving hub for people living in the region," Ms Macklin said.
The agreement ensures that Jabiru will continue to develop within the framework of Kakadu National Park, without compromising its outstanding World Heritage values. Existing interests in Jabiru will be protected and the town will remain part of Kakadu National Park.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett said that the Government appreciated the positive working relationship with the Mirarr.
"On behalf of the Government we thank the Mirarr for their generosity in sharing their country and heritage with visitors from around the world."
Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson said the Jabiru Native Title claim settlement was a great win for common sense negotiation and the Mirarr traditional owners.
"This demonstrates that great results can be achieved when Governments and interested parties sit down and talk these issues through," Mr Henderson said.
"This is a terrific outcome and provides real opportunities for ongoing economic development."
Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon said the historic agreement will allow the local community to move forward and guarantees the future of Jabiru.
"The town is the gateway to Australia's largest national park and one of the world's top tourist destinations, and that provides some very exciting opportunities," Mr Snowdon said.