His­tory cre­ated with han­dover

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

SIXTY-THREE thou­sand hectares of land be­tween Moss­man and Cook­town was handed back to the East­ern Kuku Yalanji peo­ple on Satur­day.

But the long strug­gle for tra­di­tional own­ers to re­gain con­trol of their tra­di­tional lands which be­gan with a na­tive ti­tle claim in 1994 looks set to con­tinue.

Un­der the agree­ment for­malised with Satur­day’s his­toric han­dover at the Moss­man Bowls Club of 65,000ha, only 16,500ha will be avail­able for the de­vel­op­ment of the East­ern Kuku Yalanji Bama’s (peo­ple’s) so­cial, cul­tural and eco­nomic as­pi­ra­tions, with the rest to be de­clared a na­ture refuge.

Ja­bal­bina chair­per­son Fran­cis Walker, whose ten­ure with the board also fin­ished on Satur­day, said the han­dover was a “twoedged sword”.

“It’s good for Bama to get the bubu (land) back but if we don’t have the re­sources and ca­pac­ity to de­velop that bubu for our eco­nomic and so­cial well­be­ing, there will be lit­tle sus­tain­able ben­e­fit,” she said.

“Once we get the bubu back how are we go­ing to meet all the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with land own­er­ship and also as­sist Bama to achieve their as­pi­ra­tions, with our lim­ited re­sources?”

Mem­ber for Cook Ja­son O’brien, who at­tended the cer­e­mony, said the agree­ments “pro­vide an un­par­al­leled op­por­tu­nity for the Yalanji peo­ple to build a pros­per­ous fu­ture for the next gen­er­a­tion”.

Ms Walker said some de­vel­op­men­tal work had al­ready been done in small ar­eas by many ded­i­cated peo­ple.

“But the big chal­lenges of es­tab­lish­ing ad­e­quately fa­cil­i­tated liv­ing ar­eas and sus­tain­able busi­ness enterprises can only be met with the com­mit­ted sup­port and as­sis­tance of State and Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ments,” she said.

“So­ci­ety wants to pre­serve the en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues of our bubu but that need to pre­serve what hasn’t al­ready been dis­turbed by coloni­sa­tion takes away our right to de­ter­mine for our­selves.

“As Bama, how we can best use the re­sources on our bubu for the ben­e­fit of our cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions?

“This is a mile­stone day, but it is a mile­stone at the start of a very long road.”

Ja­bal­bina gen­eral man­ager Paul Bar­rett said that while Yalanji Bama waited a long time for the hand­back of their land - putting in place “on the ground” ar­range­ments that would see their plans come to fruition, “was yet to be tack­led”.

“It sounds great to get all of this land back and it is, but with­out the money to do any­thing with the land what can be done? It will just sit there,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.