In a win for rural landholders, the Federal Attorney General on Friday announced the reinstatement of native title funding for respondents.
The decision will see $2.2 million in funding for native title respondents be restored to the budget, following cuts made by the former Government a year ago.
It follows extensive advocacy efforts by the National Farmers Federation.
“In the lead up to the election, the Coalition committed to reinstating native title funding, and today we are seeing this election promise become a reality,” NFF president Duncan Fraser said in an NFF statement issued on Friday.
“We are extremely pleased to see that the Government has listened to the NFF and to farmers on this issue and has today restored equality in the native title system.
“Up until last year, both claimants and respondents in native title cases had fair and equal access to assistance and legal representation.
“But in a cost-cutting move by the former Government, funding to respondents was cut, leaving them to foot hefty legal bills or represent themselves – creating inequality in accessing justice and jeopardising the goodwill in the system.
“It also put into disarray the timely court processing of claims, which was soundly criticised by native title judges.
“Today, the Attorney General has announced the funding will be made available from 1 January 2014. This is a win for farmers and a win for common sense, and we thank the Attorney General and the Government for turning a promise into a priority,” Mr Fraser said.
Native title future hangs in balance 21 Dec 2012