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Native title

Under the State and Federal laws dealing with native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage, proponents are often required to negotiate with traditional owner groups to obtain their agreement as part of the project approvals process.
Appropriate engagement and advice can reduce project risks and delays, and deliver durable and commercial outcomes for all parties.
A balanced perspective
Gadens’ native title and cultural heritage team provides practical advice to proponents and Aboriginal parties, to help them manage the complex interaction between development and traditional laws and customs. 
Our experience in acting for native title claimant groups has given us a unique insight into the challenges and difficulties faced by both parties in managing negotiations and statutory processes, and devising innovative and pragmatic contractual outcomes in this unusual agreement making environment.
Advice across a range of issues
When supporting our clients, we advise on future act and cultural heritage rights and obligations, and associated tenements, approvals, infrastructure and land access issues.  We facilitate negotiations, provide strategic advice on the development of native title agreements and cultural heritage management plans, and help our clients to develop sustainable relationships.
The projects we have advised on include exploration, construction and production for various mineral, gas, petroleum and renewable energy projects, as well as related rail and port infrastructure.  We have also facilitated a number of authorisation meetings, which has resulted in the registration of several indigenous land use agreements for major projects.
Indigenous law specialists working alongside resource and development experts
To help our clients move efficiently through the approval and negotiation processes, we often advise in conjunction with Gadens’ lawyers from our infrastructure, planning and environment, property and regulatory compliance teams.
The result is holistic advice that considers the complex interaction between native title, cultural heritage and development, and the practical and commercial outcomes and implications of recommended courses of action.
  • Traditional owner groups:  acting for a number of traditional owner groups in negotiations for indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) and cultural heritage management plans (CHMPs) for the four major LNG projects near Gladstone.  This included approvals for various components of those projects from the gas fields in the Surat Basin, the gas transmission pipelines and the LNG processing plants on Curtis Island for QGC/BG Group, Santos/Petronas, Origin/Conoco Phillips and Arrow/Shell
  • Proponents:  acting for the proponents of major coal projects in the Galilee Basin, as well as associated rail and port infrastructure and the development of a large wind farm near Hughenden.  We also have a ‘watching brief’ for other energy and resource clients to ensure their interests are protected in native title determination applications affecting their projects before the Federal Court
  • Traditional owner groups:  facilitating agreements for a number of other major projects, including the Surat Basin Rail Project (Coordinator General‘s Office), Western Basin Dredging & Disposal Project (Gladstone Ports Corporation), Fisherman’s Landing Project (Gladstone Ports Corporation), Wiggins Island Coal Terminal (Wiggins Island Joint Venture), Curtis Island Water & Sewerage Project (Gladstone Area Water Board/Gladstone Regional Council), Balaclava Island Coal Terminal (Xstrata), RTA Yarwun Refinery (Rio Tinto) and the Boyne Smelters Project (Rio Tinto)
  • Exploration:  regularly dealing with objections to the application of the expedited procedure for exploration tenements, as well as negotiated agreements and future act determinations before the National Native Title Tribunal
  • Commercial support:  assisting a number of clients in the establishment of charitable trusts, Aboriginal corporations and private companies to hold compensation and other benefits payable under ILUAs and other agreements, as well as providing services for cultural heritage surveys and other contractual arrangements.

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