Payout to spark $ 1b claim wave

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

A LAND­MARK na­tive ti­tle payout has been up­held in the Fed­eral Court and is ex­pected to trig­ger na­tion­wide com­pen­sa­tion claims ex­ceed­ing $ 1 bil­lion.

A his­toric $ 3.3 mil­lion in dam­ages awarded to the Ngali­wurru and Nun­gali peo­ple of Tim­ber Creek was largely up­held af­ter the full bench of the Fed­eral Court dis­missed an ap­peal from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment on Thurs­day.

In Au­gust 2016, the case de­ter­mined for the first time how to award com­pen­sa­tion to tra­di­tional own­ers who have lost their na­tive ti­tle rights.

The indige­nous groups were awarded $ 512,000 for eco­nomic loss, al­most $ 1.5 mil­lion for in­ter­est and an­other $ 1.3 mil­lion for pain and suf­fer­ing caused by a loss of at­tach­ment to the tiny par­cel of land 600km south­west of Dar­win.

Thurs­day’s rul­ing up­held most of the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion but re­duced the eco­nomic value of the na­tive ti­tle rights and in­ter­ests from 80 per cent to 65 per cent of the land’s free­hold value, which the North­ern Land Coun­cil said was “dis­ap­point­ing”.

Land ac­cess part­ner An­drew Gay, of law firm Ashurst, ex­pects a marked in­crease in the num­ber of sim­i­lar cases around the coun­try.

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