On 16 March 2017 the Executive Director signed the Mutitjulu township lease and accepted land administration responsibility for the community, famous for having Uluru on its doorstep. The Executive Director will manage the land on behalf of the Commonwealth and for the benefit of the Traditional Owners and the residents of the Mutitjulu community.
The Mutitjulu township lease is significant. Although it is the seventh community covered by a township lease, and the fourth township lease overall, it is the first in Central Australia. It is also unique as it is technically a sublease, as the land occupied by Mutitjulu is already leased to the Director of National Parks as Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The Mutitjulu township lease resolves a major obstacle to service delivery and investment in Mutitjulu, as the community’s complex land tenure had discouraged government and private investment in the community.
The Mutitjulu township lease is also the first that will implement a new model for township Leasing: the ‘community entity’ model. In Mutitjulu’s case, the Executive Director will hold and administer the lease until a local Aboriginal organisation has the capability to manage the lease.
The Mutitjulu township lease thus offers Traditional Owners across the Northern Territory a new township lease model. On the one hand, the model offers the certainty of tenure, reliability of rent income streams and enabling foundation for economic development of the original township lease model. However it also provides an option for the eventual transition to management by a capable local Aboriginal organisation.