Acting Treaty Commissioner Appointed

The nation’s most senior Aboriginal barrister has been appointed as the Northern Territory’s Acting Treaty Commissioner.

Mr Tony McAvoy SC is a Wirdi man from Central Queensland, and his appointment was made by Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, at a swearing-in ceremony this morning.

Mr McAvoy SC, who is is widely known and respected, has formed a strong connection with the Northern Territory throughout his career.  He was Co-Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory and has worked with key Aboriginal organisations such as Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency, Northern Land Council and more recently as an advisor to the Paul Ramsay Foundation who partnered with community-led organisations and government on the historic NT Aboriginal Justice Agreement.

The Acting Treaty Commissioner also recently delivered the 2021 Charles Perkins Memorial Oration where he advocated for the establishment of truth commissions and Treaties with Australia’s First Peoples.

Mr McAvoy SC has had extensive involvement in providing legal and strategic advice to various jurisdictions on Treaty matters; this has included work with the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner and the Queensland Treaty Working Group, along with representing the Narungga People in the treaty negotiations processes in South Australia that resulted in the Buthera Agreement 2018.

The appointment follows an expression of interest process and a selection assessment panel comprising representatives from the Northern Territory Government (Minister for Treaty) and the four Land Councils (Northern, Central, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa).

The appointment is for up to six months, in accordance with legislation, enabling the Acting Treaty Commissioner to finalise and present the NT Treaty Commission’s final report to the NT Government in March 2022.

Quotes from Minister for Treaty and Local Decision Making Selena Uibo:

“We welcome the appointment of Mr McAvoy SC to this role and acknowledge the important and relevant service and work he has already carried out.

“He has extensive experience working here in the Territory which has involved engaging with key Aboriginal organisations to ensure better outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians.

“The Territory Labor Government is committed to delivering a Treaty or Treaties, which will set the foundation for future agreements between the Northern Territory Government and Aboriginal Territorians.”