Native Title Deal

Daintree Rainforest.jpg

According to a report in today’s Cairns Post, the Federal Court of Australia has made a consent determination, handing over a major management role of 126,000 hectares in the Daintree, to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji native title holders.

The determination has resulted in a major reconfiguration of land ownership and management arrangements across a complex array of World Heritage tenures.

The report states that 33,300-hectares of state-owned land has been declared for the exclusive occupation and use of the native title-holders. 96,600-hectares has been recognised for non-exclusive rights, including rights to the water and to fish and hunt in the water, the right to camp, hunt, gather resources for personal (non-commercial) needs and to conduct ceremonies. 16,500-hectares of Aboriginal freehold land has also been declared for residential and economic development.

The determination took over thirteen years to finalise. A range of benefits, negotiated under the broader indigenous land use package, will include a greater role in managing parks and reserves and a veritable doubling of national park estate between Cooktown and Mossman.

3 Responses to Native Title Deal

  1. Helen Mahar December 11, 2007 at 8:06 am #

    This article looks remarkably like a puff piece, and I have some questions that have little to do with aboriginal cultural issues.

    The Parks have doubled their estate in the region and negotiated for Aboriginal park managers etc. From what bucket are these Park managers to be paid. Parks or Aboriginal Affairs?

    Then the comment that 16500 ha of Aboriginal freehold land has been declared for residential and economic development. Shouldn’t freehold land always have had the right of reseidential and economic development?

    And with residential development, will the aboriginal occupants be permitted to actually own the houses they occupy? I.e. be able to raise mortgages on them, sell them, or pass the asset onto their descendants?

    Do you know the answers to these questions, Neil?

  2. Neil Hewett December 11, 2007 at 8:38 am #

    Hi Helen,

    Much of the detail of the package is (frustratingly) concealed by confidentiality. However, I asked the regional services director of EPA on the day of the determination, if the doubling of NP estate was accompanied by a proportionate increase in budgetary allocation? He replied affirmatively. From where the funds were sourced, I do not know, except insofar as all internal revenue being fundamentally sourced through taxation.

    Aboriginal freehold title is held, as I understand it, by the registered indigenous land trust. I do not know if it can be bought or sold or mortgaged. As I understand it, all lands within the determination area, including Aboriginal freehold land, falls under the same Commonwealth and Queensland legislation that applies everywhere else within the area. Therefore, the right of residential and economic development is subordinate to the conservation codes and planning instruments that have effectively expropriated such rights from neighbouring freehold lands.

  3. Schiller Thurkettle December 11, 2007 at 10:00 am #

    This is a great idea.

    I hope there’s lots of coal on this land. Anyone who complains about coal mining will be politically incorrect!

    Since any complaints about what they do on this land will be politically incorrect, they will likely outperform the rest of the Australian economy in a decade.

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