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Northern Territory: Mandatory Leases

(Question No. 2908) Senator Siewert asked the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 24 June 2010:

(1) What criteria are used in the current government valuations of mandatory leases in the Northern Territory.
(2) What opportunity is there for communities to seek independent valuations. (3) Who are these rents being paid to in the communities: the traditional owners or the entire community.

Senator Arbib—The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1) (2) and (3) In October 2008, Minister Macklin formally requested, under subsection 62(1) of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (‘the Act’), that the Northern Territory Valuer-General determine reasonable amounts of rent to be paid for the five-year leases. The Act obliges the Commonwealth to pay the amounts determined by the Valuer-General to the relevant owners of land covered by a five-year lease.

For five-year leases over Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 payments are made to Land Councils (in accordance with section 6 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976) who distribute the payments for the benefit of the traditional owners of the land. For five-year leases over Community Living Areas payments are made to the organisation that holds title to the Community Living Area.

The five-year lease rent valuations were calculated in accordance with an independent process conducted by the Valuer-General under section 62 of the Act. The Valuer-General and/or his staff conducted research, onsite visits and consultations with the Land Councils as part of the valuation process. I understand that the Northern and Central Land Councils engaged independent valuation advisors to review the draft valuations and the Valuer-General finalised his valuation methodology, having regard to their views.

Section 62 of the Act prescribes various matters relating to the conduct of the valuation, including that the valuations be based on the unimproved value of the land.

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