Indigenous Australians living in Cape York had a win last night when the Australian Senate passed legislation that will ensure Native Title holders are consulted about the future development and protection of their land.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said there was never any need for the Queensland Government to trade away the rights of the traditional custodians with the Wild Rivers legislation.
“Any visitor to Cape York will know that the environment has been excellently managed by traditional owners. This legislation was always just a grubby pre-election deal with environmental groups to secure green preferences in the state election,” Senator Scullion said.
“It is a disgrace that the Queensland Labor Government acted to secure its political future rather than protect the rights of Indigenous people to their own land.
The private members bill, Wild Rivers (Environmental Protection) Bill No2 2010, requires the Queensland Government to immediately renegotiate all wild river declarations with the Native Title holders to ensure their wishes and aspirations are fully accommodated.
“Indigenous Australians have a long tradition of protecting the cultural and environmental values of their land, but they also have the right to use it to create jobs and secure economic prosperity for future generations.
“The passage of this bill in the Senate restores the Native Title rights of Indigenous people in Cape York and will allow them to be involved in deciding how their land should be managed and developed.
“It’s up to the Prime Minister to now demonstrate whether he wants Indigenous land to be locked up, or whether he is fair dinkum about looking after their right to an economic future, not just a welfare future.
“The Government must consider this bill, amend it if it can be improved, then immediately pass it so that the rights of Indigenous Native Title holders are rightfully restored.”
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Indigenous rights restored with passage of Wild Rivers bill 23.6.10.pdf