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Fluid Mechanics: The Practical Use of Native Title for Freshwater Outcomes
"What rights do native title holders have in relation to freshwater resources?" - a question tackled by legal scholars, lawyers and native title holders for decades. This paper asks a different question: "Assuming they have rights relating to freshwater, what can native-title holders do with those rights to promote or protect the things they value?".
It examines the interaction between native title and other areas of law that may impact on freshwater, including water legislation; approvals for mining, petroleum and infrastructure projects; and common law torts that govern land use. The paper deals with two distinct types of situation. First, where native-title holders want to do something with water, be it commercial irrigation or aquaculture, or the flooding of culturally significant ecosystems. Second, where native-title holders want to protect freshwater resources from the impacts of other people’s activities, such as mine dewatering, fracking, dam projects, groundwater irrigation, or industrial pollution.