The Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council is bound by the key legislative requirements which determine the objects and functions of a Local Aboriginal Land Council as contained in the amended ALRA. WLALC is an incorporated body constituted under the ALRA. The ALRA states that the objects of each Local Aboriginal Land Council are to “improve, protect and foster the best interests of all Aboriginal persons within the Councils area and other persons who are members of the Council”. The functions of the Land Council include:
- Make claims on vacant crown land;
- Acquire land and to use, manage, control, hold or dispose of, or otherwise deal with, land vested in or acquired by the Council;
- Protect the interests of Aboriginal persons in its area in relation to the acquisition, management, use, control and disposal of land;
- Take action to protect the culture and heritage of Aboriginal persons in the Councils area, subject to any other law;
- Promote awareness in the community of the culture and heritage of Aboriginal persons in the Councils area;
- Prepare and implement, in accordance with the Act, a community, land and business plan;
- Manage, in accordance with the Act and consistently with its community, land and business plan, the investment of any assets of the Council;
- Facilitate business enterprise in accordance with the Act, and the regulations, and consistently with the community, land and business plan;
- Directly, or indirectly, provide community benefits under the community benefits scheme;
- Provide, acquire, upgrade or extend residential accommodation for Aboriginal persons within its area;
- Establish or participate in the establishment of, a trust for the purpose of providing a community benefits scheme.
The activities of WLALC is also subject to a range of other legislation. Acts that also relate to the day-today operations and functions of WLALC include:
Residential Tenancies Act: Establishes rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. Governs WLALC rental housing operations Anti-Discrimination Act Requires equality of opportunity, particularly in employment, irrespective of race, religion, sex, marital status, etc. Certain exemptions are available to WLALC where Aboriginality is a reasonable condition of employment. Environmental Planning and Assessment Act Establishes framework under which land is managed and used in NSW. Sets out framework of planning instruments used by the State/Local Govt, including:
- State Environmental Planning Policies;
- Regional Environmental Plans;
- Local Environment Plans; and,
- Development Control Plans.
Each of these items (plus rules established by Govt agencies) must be complied with if WLALC want to use land granted or acquired. This could be establishing a business, developing or selling land or reserving land for cultural purposes Local Government Act Establishes role, functions and constraints on Local Govt in NSW. Impacts WLALC in terms of payment of rates, provision of services (parks, library, child care facilities) and approving applications for land development.
National Parks and Wildlife Act: Establishment, preservation and management of National Parks, historic sites and certain other areas to assist in the protection of certain fauna, native plants and Aboriginal objects. Key impact for WLALC is the provisions relating to the identification, assessment and management of areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage. This Act sets the rules under which WLALC undertakes site inspections and prepares reports recommending preservation or consent to destroy. Commonwealth and State Taxation Legislation WLALC is exempt from a range of State and Commonwealth taxes and charges, including:
- Stamp duty and vendors duty on property transactions (automatic);
- Land tax (automatic);
- Income tax (application to the Australian Tax Office required);
- Fringe benefit tax (application to the Australian Tax Office recommended).
Native Title Act 1993 this Act has an indirect impact on the operations of the Land Council in that it potentially situates WLALC in a particular contentious position in cases where land claims, development or sales are contested under Federal legislation.