Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) 2012 Review

Background, the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW)

The late 1960s and 1970s saw escalating nationwide community demands for the recognition of Aboriginal land rights and a range of responses from commonwealth and state governments. In 1978 the New South Wales government established a Select Committee on Aborigines headed by Mr Maurice Keane. The Keane Committee was to report on land rights, sacred sites, socio-economic issues and State-Commonwealth relations. The Keane Committee focused initially on issues of land rights and conducted public consultations throughout the state. In its first report, released in 1980, the Keane Committee recommended that land rights be provided on the basis of need and as compensation for land lost, as well as on the basis of prior ownership and tradition. Following the Keane Committee's 1980 report there was sustained community activism for the implementation of its recommendations on land rights.

In 1983 the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) was enacted. The ALRA:

created a three tiered structure of local, regional and state Aboriginal Land Councils;
established the lands claim process, including defining what lands were classed as claimable;
and provided for the provision of 7.5% of land tax collected in NSW for the 15 years from 1983-1998 to be paid into a statutory investment fund managed by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council as compensation for lost land.

The ALRA has undergone significant revisions since its enactment. However, the core principles as embodied in the preamble and purposes of the Act remain.

Link to Hansard extract for ALRA for 24 March 1983 (second reading speech by then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Frank Walker)