Native Title

In this section

Native title has been on the Australian legal landscape for more than a decade, generating many practical issues for the mineral, oil and gas exploration, production and infrastructure industries, as well as for financiers, pastoralists, governments and Indigenous communities.

Australian states and territories continue to implement reforms and restructures of their native title frameworks and policies, to continue the push toward greater efficiencies in the native title process.

Cultural heritage is also an emerging area, where increasingly clients are needing to navigate through state legislation and negotiate and draft Cultural Heritage Management Plans for a wide range of projects.

How we can help

If you are dealing with a native title or cultural heritage issue, we offer specialist expertise on crucial aspects such as security of title, legal interpretation of the native title legislation, negotiation with Indigenous communities, disclosure requirements and compensation liability. We can also monitor proceedings for clients.

Our lawyers regularly advise on native title and cultural heritage issues relating to major projects, particularly in the resources sector, and how companies might navigate the complex Future Acts Regime. Often, such projects involve the construction or establishment of substantial infrastructure, such as dams, water pipelines, railways, ports, gas pipelines, electricity lines and power stations.

We have been involved from the early days of the legislation, seeking outcomes that create certainty for our clients

We work with you to formulate positive strategies and can negotiate on your behalf to achieve commercially viable arrangements rather than drawn-out court proceedings. Alternatively, we can also conduct any required court proceedings.


Brisbane Airport Corporation native title

Advised Brisbane Airport Corporation on all native title and cultural heritage issues associated with its parallel runway project, including successfully negotiating agreements with two traditional landowner groups.

Xstrata Coal Wandoan Project

Advised Xstrata on all native title and cultural heritage issues associated with its proposed Wandoan Coal mine, a large greenfield coal mine site in the Surat Basin area of Queensland. 

Kansai Electric Power Company supply of LNG

Advised Kansai Electric Power Company (a major Japanese electricity supplier) on an agreement for the supply of LNG from Woodside's Pluto gas field on the North West Shelf. Allens advised on Australian law issues, including the heritage risk issues associated with the project, given the location of the development on the Burrup Peninsula, recently included on Australia's National Heritage List due to the ancient rock art in the area.

Stanwell Corporation wind power generation

Advised on native title issues affecting access to water for this wind turbine development in south-east Victoria.

Paradise Dam native title

Negotiated a series of native title agreements relating to Burnett Water's Paradise Dam project in Queensland, including advising on the first use of the specific Queensland project legislation allowing the compulsory acquisition of native title for infrastructure projects of this type.

Fitzroy to Gladstone water pipeline

Advised the Gladstone Area Water Board on all native title and cultural heritage issues associated with the Fitzroy to Gladstone water pipeline project.

Amendments to legislation

Advised Rio Tinto Aluminium and Rio Tinto Coal Australia on the introduction of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act in Queensland, including making submissions on Rio Tinto's behalf.

North South Bypass Tunnel

Advised a consortium on native title issues associated with their successful bid to build, operate and maintain the $2 billion North South Bypass Tunnel road project in Brisbane.

Port of Newcastle

Advised the financiers to the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group on native title issues related to the $1.55 billion project financing of a third coal export terminal for the Port of Newcastle, an important long-term infrastructure investment that will significantly increase the export capacity of the Hunter Valley coal chain.

Wik litigation

Represented a commercial party in this landmark litigation before the High Court and continued to represent the client in subsequent negotiations with the Indigenous Wik people.

Sunshine Gas native title

Advised Sunshine Gas on native title and cultural heritage issues relating to the proposed development of an LNG plant in Central Queensland.