The economic impact of mining moneys: the Nabarlek case, Western Arnhem Land

Author/editor: Altman, JC, Smith, D
Year published: 1994
Issue no.: 63


This discussion paper presents the results of a consultancy undertaken for the Northern Land Council (NLC) on the economic impacts of the payment of mining moneys with respect to the Nabarlek uranium mine in western Arnhem Land. The particular focus of the research is on the operations of the Nabarlek Traditional Owners Association (NTOA) since 1988, but this contemporary emphasis is contextualised with reference to complex historical, legislative and sociopolitical legacies that have greatly influenced the Association's performance. In terms of regional economic development, empowerment and the establishment of a long-term economic base, the NTOA has been unsuccessful. For these reasons, it is instructive to consider what lessons can be learnt for the future from this case study especially as it is the first major resource development project in the post-land rights era to close. The passage of the Native Title Act 1993, and the potential for the payment of agreement moneys to native title holders with respect to commercial development of their land, enhances the significance of the research findings and recommendations in this paper.

A mid-term review of the Aboriginal Employment Development Policy (AEDP) has recently been completed. While much of the associated policy rhetoric and assessment of policy outcomes has been aimed at the national level, the fiscal environment in which AEDP goals are to be achieved is invariably one of regional labour markets and administrative systems operating in the economic context of States and Territories. In view of this reality, this paper responds to a need for regional-level analyses of change in the economic status of Indigenous people compared to that of non-Indigenous people in each State and Territory. Using 1986 and 1991 Census-based social indicators for the Northern Territory, attention is focused on relative shifts in population growth and intra-State distribution, labour force and income status, and levels of welfare dependency (measured as non-employment income). A major finding is that while the gap in labour force status between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people has narrowed, the relative income status and level of welfare dependency of Indigenous people has worsened. This suggests that increased emphasis on the quality of AEDP outcomes, and not just quantity, will be necessary if the overall aims of the AEDP are to be accomplished.

ISBN: 0 7315 1737 7

ISSN:1036 1774

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