Family home an asset while half the NT's land is not?


A debate is raging over whether your family home should be regarded as an asset when the state decides if you get the pension or not.
Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes (pictured) claimed this week it is no longer feasible or fair to ask taxpayers to pay pensions while the value of the recipient’s home is not taken into account.
At the same time, the possession of more than half a million square kilometres is not taken into account in the allocation of welfare payments to thousands of people in Central Australia.
According to a spokesman for the Federal Department of Social Services, this is how it works:-
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, Aboriginal Land Trusts hold title to inalienable freehold land in the Northern Territory for the benefit of Aboriginal people entitled by Aboriginal tradition to the use or occupation of land.
As Aboriginal land is held communally, not individually, it is not assessable under the assets test.
Rent, royalties and other land related payments to individuals, such as native title, are assessed as income under the income test.
Leases on Aboriginal land can be made over individual parcels of land or over townships to support economic development and service delivery.
Leasing on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory is increasingly being used by governments and service providers that occupy Aboriginal land.
However, more needs to be done to support leasing for individuals and private enterprises in these communities.
The Australian Government is working to increase economic development opportunities on Aboriginal land by re-energising township leasing, regularising land administration and reducing red tape.
The assets test assesses assets that a person owns, apart from exempt assets such as a person’s principal home.
Similarly, the income test assesses the gross ordinary income of people and measures income from all sources.


  1. What have all the legal emigrants from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s strived for, but to work and own their own homes for themselves and their families in this beautiful country.
    Now in their later years [some] have to sell up and move to a house with no memories for them and their children, and almost start a new life in another area.
    [They] use all their hard earned money, which they worked for all their lives, so they can live a comfortable life in their later years.
    [They should] not be penalised by their hard work.
    This maybe progress for the future but does not look after the people’s needs in our own country.

  2. Royalties are not means tested. Ask Senator Scullion he will tell you that no government will go there!
    He was not prepared to say why. My thoughts are due to the control of land councils. Too much segregation in polices and legislation in this country and all of it to ensure support to land councils and a select few as Aboriginal suffering increases in communities town camps and in our towns.
    [ED – It was Senator Scullion’s office which referred us to the Federal Department of Social Services for information about asset tests. As you saw, their reply included this sentence: “Rent, royalties and other land related payments to individuals, such as native title, are assessed as income under the income test.”]

  3. Why should families struggling to make ends meet be responsible for funding the entitlements of wealthy pensioners? If you are “asset rich and cash poor”, as many pensioners appear to be, it might be time to liquidate the family home and stop asking for a hand-out. This might also assist young families by freeing up supply of houses that are suitable for raising a family in.

  4. The word individual. Rent, royalties and others are not paid to individuals they are paid to land councils aren’t they? Love this avoidance through word play. So, Senator, what are going to do about it?

  5. Our pollies have attacked single parents by reducing incomes and putting more kids in poverty. Yet they fail to address the issues of royalties and Centrelink staff are very aware of people collecting welfare payments in more than one name, birth name and skin names. This is still continuing and Senator Scullion is playing dumb.
    He knows what is going on and his support is not to the people of Australia in this one it is to the land councils.
    Sick of this segregation in government policies and the policies that fail to benefit the people. My advice to the Senator: Stop the play with words and answer the question.


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