Indigenous Land Corporation extends to sea

Indigenous Land Corporation extends to sea.jpg

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Australia's Indigenous Land Corporation will have its reach extended to the sea, with a new future fund set up to help land purchases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A trio of bills passed parliament on Wednesday, including one to set up the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund.

The fund replaces the existing $2 billion Land Account, which Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said was unsustainable.

It will be managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians which the government says will ensure it is $1.5 billion better off over 20 years.

Donna Odegaard, who is on the newly named Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation board, is a saltwater woman.

"When we talk about our land or our country, we include sea. So it makes sense to include that," Dr Odegaard told AAP.

The corporation buys land for indigenous groups which can't be acquired through the native title process.

"It's about cultural benefits, returning land and sea ownership to indigenous groups and then assisting in that wealth creation around that," Dr Odegaard said.

"At the end of the day we want to have that social, cultural and economic independence."

She said the flagship purchase had been the Ayers Rock Resort which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporation.

"What we have is indigenous land, particularly in the north where I'm from, you only have to look at the land, it's massive but we're dirt poor."

She said the corporation was the subject of criticism for years but had seen a "monumental shift" under chairman Eddie Fry.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the corporation had been given the chance to promote opportunities for indigenous economic development in sectors like fisheries, agriculture and tourism.

"This is more consistent with the understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have of country, where land and water are inseparable," Senator Scullion said.

Labor senator Pat Dodson said the bills had origins in the 1992 Mabo High Court decision, which recognised traditional title to land and custom had survived in many parts of Australia.

"It also found to our sorrow, that is the First Nations' people's sorrow, native title had been legally extinguished by the actions of successive governments in many parts of Australia," Senator Dodson told parliament.

© AAP 2018