Victoria cut traditional owner groups from $2b windfall

Royalties agreements were intentionally set up to exclude Aboriginal people in Victorian from their cut of more than $1 billion in land use revenue, an inquiry has heard.

State Environment Minister Steve Dimopoulos told the Yoorrook Justice Commission he believed not one cent of $1.89 billion in forestry and grazing licence revenue since 2010 had gone to traditional owners despite mechanisms to distribute royalties.

"As I understand it, none," Mr Dimopoulos told the inquiry on Tuesday.

Forestry and grazing license revenue
Forestry and grazing license revenue had not gone to traditional owners, the inquiry heard.

In the case of forestry agreements, and the $1.39 billion in timber revenue grossed for state coffers since 2010, the exclusion had been intentional, he added.

"The official answer is because it never met the threshold," Mr Dimopoulos said.

"But the real answer is the threshold was set in a way to exclude traditional owners - that's the reality."

The five forest agreements were inked between 1997 and 2000 and will be scrapped at the end of the year.

Asked what the government intended to do, Mr Dimopoulos said revenues flowing to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action went straight into consolidated revenue.

"I can't at all redirect that money myself," he said.

"That's an appropriate conversation for the whole of government in terms of revenue sources to traditional owners."

Inquiry commissioner Maggie Walter asked whether high-level frameworks and policies could be trusted to deliver better outcomes for Indigenous Victorians.

Maggie Walter during a hearing in late 2022.
Maggie Walter asked the minister what the government was going to do about the injustice.

"The failure to distribute any funds that have come from those lands to First Peoples doesn't indicate to me that there has been a significant shift in attitude," Ms Walter said. 

"Good words, but no follow through."

Yoorrook is creating an official public record on the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people in Victoria and will recommend actions to address historical and ongoing injustices as well as inform the state's treaty negotiations.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.


Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
AU$10
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
AU$5
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
AU$99
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

SEVEN DAYS FREE
Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store