Mining and Aboriginal economic development: expectations unfulfilled

Stanley, Owen (2010) Mining and Aboriginal economic development: expectations unfulfilled. In: Gerritsen, Rolf, (ed.) North Australian Political Economy: Issues and Agendas. Charles Darwin University Press, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, pp. 130-141.

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[Extract] The introduction to the Northern Territory (NT) of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 led to great optimism in terms of how mining could contribute to Aboriginal economic development. The prime example of this was an Australian Government commissioned report that was presented in October 1977. Written by Shann Turnbull, it was called the Economic Development of Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory and was later expanded and published by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 1980 (Turnbull, 1980). Overall, it was a very modern and enlightened document. Turnbull concluded (Turnbull, 1980: 2) that in the longer term (by about the year 2000), mining royalties received by NT Aboriginal people and institutions would allow Aboriginal people to: - achieve economic self sufficiency; - achieve self determination regarding life-style and place of residence, resulting in migration from towns and settlements to homelands; - the take over all existing (in 1977) Department of Aboriginal Affairs functions in the NT, by their independent non-government Aboriginal organisations; - establish viable self-managed enterprises based on traditional interests and social relationships - increase their ownership of NT land from 20 per cent to 40 per cent; and - gain majority ownership and control of all existing NT resources. Turnbull's forecasts turned out to be wrong. Indeed, there is evidence that royalties have made little difference to the socio-economic status or independence of NT Aboriginal people (Altman, 2009: 32).

Similar optimistic expectations about the way Native Title would assist Aboriginal Australians to acquire land and initiate economic development were also held.

Again, these optimistic expectations have not been met.

In the context of these unfilled expectations, this chapter raises two research questions and suggests answers for each. The questions are: - Why have the expectations about the economic development benefit of mining not been met? and - Is the precise nature of the Aborigines/mine/government agreements important to the outcomes for Aboriginal people overall, or is it simply the total value of benefits that affects development outcomes?

Item ID: 15949
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-9808641-0-6
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2011 04:51
FoR Codes: 14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140299 Applied Economics not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9199 Other Economic Framework > 919999 Economic Framework not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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