PBCs and state government policy in WA

Thursday, 7 June 2018
The Hon Ben Wyatt

As the number of native title determinations and Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) increase across Western Australia, opportunities for traditional owners to grasp a range of socio-economic benefits for their communities are growing. To best leverage these opportunities, sustainable PBC capacity and appropriate governance through boards, management and overall resourcing, is crucial. No single stakeholder bears responsibility for this; State and Commonwealth governments, and PBCs themselves, must all work together to realise potential.

The State’s recognition of traditional owners is achieved primarily through an active settlement negotiation programme, consistent with the Native Title Act (NTA). WA provides capacity-building funding, procurement opportunities, land tenure (including, but not limited to, divestment of Aboriginal Lands Trust assets), and economic development opportunities through the Government’s PBC Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA).

Where native title cannot be recognised owing to widespread extinguishment, Alternative Settlements may be contemplated. The South West Settlement is one example, and negotiations for an Alternative Settlement over the Geraldton-Midwest region are currently in train.
ILUAs also provide a vehicle for resolving the State’s native title compensation liabilities by negotiation. With the advent of new legal precedents such as the Timber Creek case, the practical resolution of native title compensation will be decisive in ensuring future economic certainty for the State and underpinning native title holders’ economic prosperity.