Native title tax treatment to be examined

The Australian Government will establish a Treasury-led working group to examine the tax treatment of native title payments and how they can better benefit Indigenous communities now and into the future.

Joint Media Release

Attorney-General
Minister for Emergency Management
The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Minister for Disability Reform
The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Assistant Treasurer
Minister Assisting for Deregulation
The Hon David Bradbury MP

18 March 2013

The Australian Government will establish a Treasury-led working group to examine the tax treatment of native title payments and how they can better benefit Indigenous communities now and into the future.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC said that the Tax Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 6) Bill 2012 provides certainty for native title holders and their partners in the minerals and other industries.

“The Government is committed to ensuring Native Title payments provide real benefit to native title holders now and into the future. That is why we will establish a working group to explore how to strengthen governance and promote sustainability in the management of native title payments,” Mr Dreyfus said.

The working group would include native title and taxation experts and industry stakeholders.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said the working group will consider a range of options to help hold, manage and distribute native title benefits.

“This will include the Indigenous Community Development Corporation model, which has been the product of significant work by the National Native Title Council, the MCA and leaders like Marcia Langton,” Mr Bradbury said.

“The model focuses on the management of benefits for the future and the application of robust governance standards.”

“We want Indigenous communities, both now and into the future, to get real and lasting benefits from development opportunities on their country,” Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said.

“The focus will be to encourage good governance and sustainable social, cultural and economic development.”

The working group will report to Government on options by 1 July 2013.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC said that it is extremely disappointing that the Opposition intends to move an amendment to remove Schedule 1 from the Tax Bill.

“This Bill simply clarifies in law taxation arrangements which have been in place since the Native Title system was established,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“Clearly Joe Hockey is looking for every cent of tax revenue he can get - even if it means imposing a new tax on native title holders and their partners in the mining industry.”

“Joe Hockey is again out of step with his leader who has said he wants to take a “new approach” to the Opposition’s engagement with Indigenous Australians.”

“Or perhaps this is Tony Abbott’s “new approach” - increasing tax on native title holders.”