Native title contestation in Western Australia's Pilbara region


The rights afforded to Indigenous Australians under the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) are very limited and allow for undue coercion by corporate interests, contrary to the claims of many prominent authors in this field. Unlike the Commonwealth’s first land rights law, Aboriginal Lands Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (ALRA) , the NTA does not offer a right of veto to Aboriginal parties; instead, they have a right to negotiate with developers, which has in practice meant very little leverage in negotiations for native title parties. And unlike ALRA, developers can deal with any Indigenous corporation, rather than land councils. These two factors have encouraged opportunistic conduct by some developers and led to vexatious litigation designed to break the resistance of native title parties, as demonstrated by the experience of Aboriginal corporations in the iron ore-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia.

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Published: 2014-12-01
Pages:132 to 148
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How to Cite
Cleary, P. (2014) “Native title contestation in Western Australia’s Pilbara region”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 3(3), pp. 132-148. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v3i3.182.

Author Biography

Australian National University
Paul Cleary is a senior writer with The Australian newspaper and a PhD scholar at the Australian National University. His thesis is about native title negotiations between mining companies and Indigenous communities based in the Pilbara, Western Australia, He is the author of Shakedown — Australia’s grab for Timor oil (2007), The Men Who Came out of the Ground (2010) Too Much Luck (2011) and Mine-Field (2013).