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Northern Land Council welcomes return of NT Treaty process

Giovanni Torre -

The Northern Land Council has welcomed the recommencement of the Northern Territory Treaty process.

On Friday, the NT government said it is reviving a Treaty Working Group and will hold symposiums in April.

The government denied it had all but shelved its commitment to Treaty, following the disbandment of the Treaty Commission office and Treaty Commissioner position in 2022.

Former Chief Minister Michael Gunner pledged to pursue Treaty in 2018, but NT Aboriginal Affairs Minister Chansey Paech conceded that the process had slowed due to the Voice referendum.

"We did make the decision to slow down during the national referendum around the Voice to Parliament," Mr Paech told the ABC.

"As an outcome of that, we are now proceeding with the revival of the Treaty Working Group with the land councils and the community, around navigating and putting the pathway forward for treaty here in the Northern Territory."

While Mr Paech said the government had not shelved the Treaty commission's final report, he did not deny that none of its recommendations had been implemented, the ABC reported.

On Tuesday morning the Northern Land Council said it is "very pleased to see that a Treaty with Aboriginal people is back on the top of the Northern Territory government agenda".

The Council and its constituents across the Top End have been eager to see this process move forward since it first began six years ago.

The NLC described the government's announcement that it will revive the Treaty Working Group with the Land Councils and the community, as well as hold symposiums in Darwin and Alice Springs in April, as "key steps on a concrete path to achieving Treaty".

Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said Treaty-making is "a long and complex undertaking" but one that "will provide benefit for all Territorians".

"It is vital that something as crucial and abiding as a Territory Treaty is not rushed through nor hijacked for parties' short-term politics," he said.

"The NLC will support comprehensive engagement with Aboriginal people as we learn more about the government's plans."

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