by Chris Griffith
Published 13 Oct 1996 in The Sunday Mail
The Indigeneous Land Corporation, charged with making the purchases, has released its strategy plan for its Queensland buy-backs.
The corporation has received plans to buy land in the Mount Isa, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Roma, and Brisbane regions over the next six years.
There is a proposal to convert some land currently leased as Deeds of Grant in Trust (DOGITs) to traditional ownership, and a proposal to discuss buying land on mainland Australia for Torres Strait Islanders.
But the corporation is not prepared to telegraph its punches by detailing exactly what land it will buy. To do so, argue officials, would cause prices to escalate.
And purchases will not be made annually or at any regular time - rather as land is needed when market prices are optimal.
The buy-back plan is part of the former Keating government's three-stage response to the historic Mabo High Court decision in 1993, and is supported by the Howard government.
The first stage involved allowing Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to lodge claims for native title.
But for indigenous people not living on their traditional lands and ineligible for native title, the government provided the buy-back option.
In its Queensland strategy plan, the corporation has identified 121 parcels of land, some 42 million sq km already held by Queensland Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who comprise 2.36 percent of the state's population.
It says in central Queensland, coastal development "may affect land prices significantly and the size and types of land parcels which could be targeted in the coastal regions".
It says of Brisbane: "land which remains unspoilt and with high cultural value is rare and the stock of available options is rapidly diminishing".
"Priority land types identified include undeveloped land, where achievable, and land which will allow control and access of heritage sites and natural resources."
The Indigenous Land Corporation has met with most Queensland land councils and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation (ATSIC) regional councils - the exception, according to the report, was the Carpentaria Land Council, chaired by Murrandoo Yanner.
From 1995-97, the government will make around $25 million per annum directly available for land purchases Australia-wide.
Around $45 million will be provided each year from 1997-2001.
The government also will deposit $76 million (indexed) annually in a land fund which will remain untouched until 2001.
From 2001 onwards, the interest from an estimated $631 million in the land fund will finance land purchases.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR BUYING BACK LAND (millions of dollars .. to be indexed) Land fund Available Available Total investment to ILC for to ATSIC for buy-backs buy-backs 1994-1995 175 25 200 1995-1996 76 24 21 121 1996-1997 76 24 21 121 1997-1998 76 45 121 1998-1999 76 45 121 1999-2000 76 45 121 2000-2001 76 45 121 TOTAL $631m $253m $42m $926mFrom 2001 onwards, interest from the $631m land fund will finance future purchases.