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ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS (NORTHERN TERRITORY) ACT 1976 - SECT 50

Functions of Commissioner

             (1)  The functions of a Commissioner are:

                     (a)  on an application being made to the Commissioner by or on behalf of Aboriginals claiming to have a traditional land claim to an area of land, being unalienated Crown land or alienated Crown land in which all estates and interests not held by the Crown are held by, or on behalf of, Aboriginals:

                              (i)  to ascertain whether those Aboriginals or any other Aboriginals are the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land; and

                             (ii)  to report his or her findings to the Minister and to the Administrator of the Northern Territory, and, where the Commissioner finds that there are Aboriginals who are the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, to make recommendations to the Minister for the granting of the land or any part of the land in accordance with sections 11 and 12;

                     (b)  to inquire into the likely extent of traditional land claims by Aboriginals to alienated Crown land and to report to the Minister and to the Administrator of the Northern Territory, from time to time, the results of his or her inquiries;

                     (c)  to establish and maintain a register of the traditional land claims referred to in paragraph (b);

                     (d)  to advise the Minister in connexion with any other matter relevant to the operation of this Act that is referred to the Commissioner by the Minister; and

                     (e)  to advise the Minister and the Administrator of the Northern Territory in connexion with any other matter relating to land in the Northern Territory that is referred to the Commissioner by the Minister with the concurrence of the Administrator of the Northern Territory.

             (2)  A Commissioner may, with the approval of the Minister, perform any function that may be conferred on the Commissioner by a law of the Northern Territory.

          (2A)  A Commissioner shall not perform a function under paragraph (1)(a) in respect of an application made after the expiration of 10 years after the commencement of this subsection.

          (2B)  Where:

                     (a)  an application referred to in paragraph (1)(a) has been made to a Commissioner;

                     (b)  it appears to the Commissioner that the land to which the application relates is, in whole or part, the same as the whole or part of land to which an earlier application related; and

                     (c)  the report made under subparagraph (1)(a)(ii) in relation to the earlier application made no recommendation as mentioned in that subparagraph in relation to that land;

the Commissioner shall not perform, or continue to perform, a function under paragraph (1)(a) in relation to the land (in this subsection referred to as the common land ) to which both the first-mentioned application and the earlier application relate unless the Commissioner finds:

                     (d)  that the basis on which the applicants contend that the applicants, or specified Aboriginals, are the traditional Aboriginal owners of the common land is substantially different from the basis on which the like contention was made in relation to the previous claim;

                     (e)  that information, documents or records that are likely to be relevant to the performance by the Commissioner of that function, being information, records or documents that were not available to the Commissioner to whom the previous application was made, will be available to the Commissioner in connection with the performance of that function; or

                      (f)  any other ground upon which it appears to the Commissioner appropriate to perform, or continue to perform, that function;

and that it is likely that the Commissioner will find that the applicants or specified Aboriginals are the traditional Aboriginal owners of the common land.

          (2C)  Where:

                     (a)  an application referred to in paragraph (1)(a) has been made to a Commissioner; and

                     (b)  it appears to the Commissioner that an estate or interest in the land is held by or on behalf of Aboriginals;

the Commissioner shall not perform, or continue to perform, a function under that paragraph in relation to the application as it relates to that land unless the Aboriginals who hold that estate or interest have, or the body which holds that estate or interest on their behalf has, consented, in writing, to the making of the application.

          (2D)  Where:

                     (a)  an application referred to in paragraph (1)(a) has been made to a Commissioner (whether before or after the commencement of this subsection);

                     (b)  the whole or part of the land to which the application relates was reserved, dedicated or otherwise set aside under a law of the Northern Territory, with effect from a time before the commencement of this subsection, as a stock route or stock reserve; and

                     (c)  if the application was made before the commencement of this subsection--the Commissioner had not, before that commencement, commenced an inquiry under paragraph (1)(a) in relation to the application in respect of that land or that part;

the Commissioner shall not perform, or continue to perform, a function under paragraph (1)(a) in relation to the application in respect of that land or that part.

          (2E)  Paragraph (2D)(b) does not apply in relation to:

                     (a)  a stock route or stock reserve that is, along each of its two longer boundaries, contiguous to land to which the application relates.

             (3)  In making a report in connexion with a traditional land claim a Commissioner shall have regard to the strength or otherwise of the traditional attachment by the claimants to the land claimed, and shall comment on each of the following matters:

                     (a)  the number of Aboriginals with traditional attachments to the land claimed who would be advantaged, and the nature and extent of the advantage that would accrue to those Aboriginals, if the claim were acceded to either in whole or in part;

                     (b)  the detriment to persons or communities including other Aboriginal groups that might result if the claim were acceded to either in whole or in part;

                     (c)  the effect which acceding to the claim either in whole or in part would have on the existing or proposed patterns of land usage in the region; and

                     (d)  where the claim relates to alienated Crown land--the cost of acquiring the interests of persons (other than the Crown) in the land concerned.

             (4)  In carrying out his or her functions a Commissioner shall have regard to the following principles:

                     (a)  Aboriginals who by choice are living at a place on the traditional country of the tribe or linguistic group to which they belong but do not have a right or entitlement to live at that place ought, where practicable, to be able to acquire secure occupancy of that place;

                     (b)  Aboriginals who are not living at a place on the traditional country of the tribe or linguistic group to which they belong but desire to live at such a place ought, where practicable, to be able to acquire secure occupancy of such a place.



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