50. The role of the Northern Land Council

Richard Trudgen and Nikunu Yunupingu explore how the Executive of the Northern Lands Council (NLC) is formed, and what their job is.

Richard reminds us that the Federal government has given authority to the full Council and to the Executive who are representatives of the full Council and of those regional councils. Council employees and works do not have this authority.

It’s explained that it’s the job of the Executive to understand and represent the desires of the Indigenous estate owners (yirralka waṯaŋu) when there are decisions to be made, such as mining leases.

It’s important that the Executive is happy with all the information that’s given to them before they make a decision, and that they need not be unnecessarily rushed into decisions.

The Act says, whoever has the statutory authority according to Madayin law (at traditional law) they alone are the ones with the authority, they have the authority to give consent or to refuse it. The Act also says that consent should be obtained using the Madayin way of obtaining consent.   ( Aboriginal Land Rights Act NT 1976). 77A

It needs to be consistent with Yolngu systems of law and with Yolngu foundational law, not a Balanda autocratic system or dictatorship. This is really what land rights means. Land wäŋa – homeplace or property ganydjarr authority (having authority over your own home or property) returning into your hands.

It’s pointed out that inside the legal chamber of the NLC  (whether the executive Council or the full Council) they should act as bakmaram-dhäruk – discussing the legal issues according to Madayin law inside that Northern Lands Council legal chamber.

Richard and Nikunu then discuss how the NLC should be feeding information back to Yolngu people about what happens in meetings and discussions. When there is no information people are confused and worried. Richard points out that information is given to the Balanda side of the discussion, as the High Court follows the NLCs decisions.

Various aspects of the NLC elections are then discussed, including the meaning of the word ‘election’ and whether or not the main stakeholders are aware of NLC elections or understand how to nominate for them.

Click here to view the full transcript of the series.

There are 4 stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below-

  • Role of NLC council and executive – 00:00
  • NLC council and executive. – 11:07
  • NLC council and executive. – 21:19
  • NLC Elections 2019; what does this mean?  – 31:09