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  • The Federal Court has ordered the Northern Territory government to pay $3,300,261 to the Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples as compensation for the impact of land grants and public works on their native title.
  • This is the first ever assessment of native title compensation in Australia.
  • The compensation was made up of three elements:
  1. $52,000 for economic loss (80 per cent of the freehold land value)
  2. $1,300,000 for non-economic loss (caused by a loss of traditional attachment to the land)
  3. $1,488,261 for simp1le interest on the economic loss component of the compensation from the time of the extinguishment some 30 years ago until the date of judgment.

Timber Creek is a small town in the Northern Territory, located on the Victoria Highway 285km west of Katherine. The Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples hold native title over the town area, having proved their native title as a result of their successful native title claim in 2007 (Griffiths v Northern Territory (2007) 165 FCR 300).

In 2011, they filed a native title compensation application pursuant to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (‘NTA) for compensation for the effect of around 60 land grants and public works on their native title rights and interests.

Liability was determined in 2014 in Griffiths v Northern Territory [2014] FCA 256, leaving the assessment of compensation to be determined in this decision (Griffiths v Northern Territory of Australia (No.3) [2016] FCA 900 (‘Timber Creek)).

The compensation claim had three elements: economic loss; non-economic loss; and interest. Because the applicants presented a number of alternative arguments, their total claim ranged between $4.76 million and $22.5 million.

The Commonwealth calculated the total compensation liability at $1.4 million.

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