Indigenous Australia is open for business – but we need investment to realise our potential – by Marcia Langton (The Guardian – May 26, 2016)

Marcia Langton is the professor of Australian Indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne.

Little has been said about Indigenous policy during this election campaign. With economic conditions high on the agenda, the potential for Indigenous Australia to contribute should be mentioned.

Indigenous Australia is open for business. After more than a half a century of change in the way Australian governments treat us, we now have the ability and assets to invest in the economic development of Australia.

It is important to understand the extraordinary opportunities that Indigenous corporations offer to those seeking to do business throughout Australia. Increasingly, our economic strengths, such as land holdings and other assets, and the value proposition in this vast area, are plain for all to see.

This is especially so in northern Australia where the Aboriginal populations, and their land holdings and assets, are significant. Some have called this Indigenous economic asset group the “sleeping giant”. But far from asleep, Indigenous people are awake to the opportunities.

Many Aboriginal groups want investment in their own assets and regions to address the legacy of underdevelopment and exclusion.

More than a third of Australia’s land mass is now Indigenous-owned or subject to Indigenous rights and interests in formal legal ways. In northern Australia, Aboriginal corporations own about 20% of the rangelands where the huge northern cattle herd is located.

About 60% of the mines in Australia are co-located with or near Aboriginal communities and populations.

There are about 2,000 agreements with Indigenous Australians, resulting in many strong partnerships between private developers and traditional owners. These agreements help ensure the security of the projects and also afford sustainable long-term benefits for Indigenous people and their communities.

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