The Political Economy of a Treaty: Opportunities and Challenges for Enhancing Economic Development for Indigenous Australians

Jon Altman, The Australian National University


This article focuses on the issue of Indigenous Australian property rights and a Treaty. Using a political economy framework, I examine three issues: What mechanisms might provide more resource rights to Indigenous Australians? How effective have treaties with Indigenous people in the Torres Strait and New Zealand been? And what are some of the relevant issues that these two cases raise? I highlight the national benefit that might result from using ‘a treaty framework’ to enable sustainable Indigenous economic futures, while also warning about some of the hurdles that Australian political economy and institutions might present.

Jon Altman is Professor and Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at The Australian National University. He has an academic background in economics and anthropology and has undertaken a great deal of research on issues associated with economic aspects of land rights and native title.

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