I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners on whose land we meet today, the Larrakia people, and pay my respect to their elders past and present.
I also want to begin by acknowledging the presence of the Prime Minister here today – it is an honour to have the Prime Minister attending today’s event and it shows what an important occasion today is – not just for the Larrakia people but for the whole nation.
I want to thank the Northern Land Council, its Chair Sammy and other members of the Full Council here today including Bill Risk – the executive member for Darwin. You have all fought the fight for land rights and it is days like today that make your efforts worthwhile.
And I thank all the staff of the NLC led by Joe Morrison – thanks for all your work over the years to get to today.
I also want to acknowledge the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles and the Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowden. You have both made contributions to make today possible and I thank you for your involvement.
Today is an historic day.
A day for commemoration and reflection.
But a day nonetheless for celebration.
As the Prime Minister said – this settlement is recognition of what already exists, it is and has always been Aboriginal land.
Let us remember the Aboriginal people that are not with us today who were involved in the fight for land rights over the past four decades – their legacy is in the title deeds the Prime Minister will be handing over shortly.
They would be proud of today.
To Raylene, Zoe, Jason and Kathleen – the Belyuen Group – I offer my sincerest gratitude and thanks for your persistence and generosity throughout the journey.
Raylene – I know the struggle has been difficult. You have had your ups and downs, times when you have felt ignored, moments when it all seemed impossible.
Your ongoing commitment and knowledge that your fight was true and proper is a great story and an endorsement of your spirit.
I am so pleased to be here to join with your celebration.
Today is recognition that you are traditional owners of country. That your family members were the traditional owners. And that your children will be recognised as traditional owners.
And to all the traditional owners here today – all Larrakia – I offer my congratulations.
This is a settlement for all Larrakia.
An agreement that will benefit you all.
I acknowledge there would have been moments that it felt like you were left out – and you may still have doubts about how it is all going to work.
I encourage you to all come together to explore the benefits that today’s deal brings you.
Today is a day to consider the opportunities in front of you.
The opportunity to continue your connection to country and maintain your land – the song lines and sacred sites that you have looked after for thousands of years.
The opportunities for all Larrakia to benefit from the development potential of the region and take up the employment opportunities that will come your way.
The opportunity to create a better future for your children and their children.
The opportunity to be a part of the recognition that you all deserve.
That the Larrakia people are traditional owners of country.
Today is the fourth land grant that the Government has handed over in just the last month – we know the importance of working with you to settle all outstanding claims.
And just like I told the traditional owners of the Simpson Desert at Santa Teresa and the traditional owners of Yarralin, we will do everything we can to settle all outstanding claims.
We know that today is the turning point – your fight for your land is now over but there is still a lot of work to do.
We need to make sure that you are able to turn your land rights into economic development and better lives for you and your families.
We need to back you in and work with your communities to get it right.
But for the moment, we should pause and celebrate the achievement that you have made today.
I congratulate you all on your recognition as traditional owners of this land.