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The Australian National University

Generating finance for Indigenous development: Economic realities and innovative options

Working Paper 15 / 2002


This is an exploratory ideas paper that sets out to consider how real development futures might be financed and delivered to Indigenous people, especially those residing in rural and remote regions. These are places where there are limited conventional development opportunities—where development is and is going to be costly—but where demographic projections, cultural imperatives and history indicate Indigenous people will be living in 50 to 100 years time. These are also places where a very high proportion of land is owned by Indigenous people, generally under inalienable title, and often (even if tradable) has a low market value. The issue addressed is how can existing institutions and statutory and non-statutory policy frameworks be used by Indigenous interests to strategically leverage development capital. This issue is especially critical under current circumstances when governments appear reluctant to recognise communal Indigenous rights and interests and market failure, and instead focus increasingly on the individual and the market, in accord with the dominant ideology of development. Simultaneously, there is evidence of a corporate banking retreat from commercially marginal regions. What strategic pressure might Indigenous interests exert to reverse such a trend?

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