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About Future Acts

What is a future act?

A future act is a proposal to deal with land in a way that affects native title rights and interests. Examples of future acts include the grant of a mining tenement or the compulsory acquisition of land.

The Native Title Act 1993 sets out procedures that governments have to follow before going ahead with the future act. These procedures vary depending on the nature of the act.

Why do we have future act procedures?

Future act procedures are based on the principle that in general, acts affecting native title will be valid only if they can also be done on freehold land. These procedures also recognise that, in some cases, future acts should only be done after every reasonable effort has been made to secure the agreement of the native title holders.

Future act procedures also provide certainty to land users by making sure that future dealings with land are valid and enforceable, even if they inconsistent with native title rights and interests. 

What is the Tribunal’s role?

In some cases, the Native Title Act requires the government that intends to do the future act (the Government party) and the person who requested or applied for the act (the grantee party) to negotiate with any person or body corporate who holds native title or has a registered native title claim over the area (the native title party). This procedure is known as the ‘right to negotiate’.

Where the right to negotiate applies, the Tribunal can assist the parties to reach agreement through mediation.

If the parties are unable to reach agreement, any of them may apply to the Tribunal for a determination. The Tribunal will then conduct an inquiry and decide whether the future act:

  • may be done;
  • may be done subject to conditions; or
  • must not be done.

Where the Government party considers that a future act should be fast tracked using the expedited procedure, the Tribunal may also conduct an inquiry into whether the right to negotiate should apply to the act.