The Working Group will examine options for native title and traditional owner groups to strengthen governance and promote sustainability of land-related payments and other benefits, to facilitate greater social, cultural and economic development and wealth creation for current and future generations.
In examining options, the Working Group will have a particular focus on the tax treatment of current arrangements and of proposed options for holding, managing and distributing those benefits; such as the proposal for an Indigenous Community Development Corporation (ICDC) which has been the product of significant work by the National Native Title Council, the Minerals Council of Australia, native title tax experts and Indigenous leaders.
The Working Group will consider:
- the desired social, cultural and economic outcomes for native title and traditional owner groups from holding, managing and distributing benefits, including governance arrangements that deliver transparency, accountability and sustainability;
- the adequacy of current arrangements for holding, managing and distributing benefits in achieving these outcomes, including;
- the entities, including charitable trusts, used by native title and traditional owner groups as part of these arrangements and the current taxation treatment of these arrangements;
- options for reform, including consideration of an ICDC as proposed by the National Native Title Council and the Minerals Council of Australia; and
- implementation issues and timeframes for options, including for an ICDC.
The Working Group will not consider the mining withholding tax, which is currently levied on mining payments made to Indigenous people or a distributing body in relation to the use of Indigenous land for mining or exploration.
The Working Group is required to report on options to the Attorney-General, the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Assistant Treasurer by 1 July 2013.
The Working Group will meet three times; enabling a focus on the core problems with current arrangements, as well as options for reform and implementation issues.
In addition to the Minerals Council of Australia and National Native Title Council ICDC proposal (March 2013), the Working Group will draw on past discussion papers and submissions in its considerations, including:
- submissions to the House Standing Committee of Economics regarding Tax Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 6) Bill 2012;
- submissions to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the House Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs regarding the Native Title Amendment Bill 2012;
- Treasury consultation paper of October 2010, Native Title, Indigenous Economic Development and Tax, and submissions;
- FaHCSIA and AGD discussion paper of July 2010, Leading practice agreements: maximising outcomes from native title benefits, and submissions; and
- the Native Title Payments Working Group's report to the Federal Government in December 2008.
Members of the Working Group are:
- Mr Rob Heferen, Executive Director, Treasury — Chair;
- Mr Murray Baird, Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission;
- Mr Anthony Beven, Registrar, Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations;
- Mr Michael Dillon, Deputy Secretary, Department Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs;
- Mr Kym Duggan, First Assistant Secretary, Attorney-General's Department;
- Mr Andrew England, Chief Tax Counsel, Australian Taxation Office;
- Mr Angus Frith, Barrister (Melbourne);
- Professor Marcia Langton, Melbourne University;
- Mr Graeme Neate, retired President, National Native Title Tribunal;
- Mr Graham Reeve, The Myer Family Company;
- Mr Peter Seidel, Partner, Arnold Bloch Leibler;
- Professor Miranda Stewart, University of Melbourne;
- Mr Matthew Storey, Chief Executive Officer, Native Title Services Victoria;
- Ms Melanie Stutsel, Minerals Council of Australia; and
- Mr Hector Thompson, General Manager, Treasury.
The Working Group will be supported by a Secretariat in the Treasury that will be assisted by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Attorney-General's Department.