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Queensland to allow Indigenous home ownership - SBS

Queensland to allow Indigenous home ownership - SBS

Indigenous Queenslanders will be able to buy and sell their own homes in Aboriginal communities under laws to be passed in parliament.

Premier Campbell Newman says the laws, to be introduced on Thursday, will provide freehold land ownership opportunities on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Previously, they were subject to tenures imposed on the state's 34 indigenous council areas through native title.

"What a proud day it will be as we correct the dispossession and the sins of the past," Mr Newman told parliament.

"This initiative will remove the barriers to home ownership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."

Mr Newman said the move would give communities economic independence and allow residents to help shape their communities.

Councils will now consult their communities about what land will be allocated for freehold title transfer.

Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey welcomed the proposed legislation and that it will be left up to communities to decide if they sell-off communal land.

“It certainly gives a sense of hope now that residents and families in those communities can move towards owning their own homes,” he told SBS.

“It’s really important that if a community wants to, it can opt in. I’m not saying everyone will dive in, or everyone won’t dive in. I think it’s quite clear it’s up to the individual shires to have their own conversation around it.”

Councillor Lacey said the requirement to give up native title over land that becomes freehold could be contentious and sales should be restricted to members of the communities.

“That is going to be an interesting space to watch and certainly relinquishing native title is going to catch people’s attention,” he said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Minister Glen Elmes said councils would not be forced to take part.

"The passage of this legislation does not create any freeholding land," he said.

"It creates the opportunity to have ... a debate to see whether they want to opt into this or for the time being, they may not want to."

Mr Elmes said the laws were about "normalising" indigenous communities and giving residents the same opportunities as others.

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