Anger over free­hold moves

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

TRA­DI­TIONAL cus­to­di­ans have made a stance against the pro­posed changes to the free­hold ti­tle in the Moss­man Gorge Com­mu­nity.

Ba­manga Bubu Ngadimunku has been work­ing with the State Govern­ment to im­prove lo­cal land, hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture ar­range­ments at the com­mu­nity.

Part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions is to move the land into or­di­nary free­hold and di­vid­ing the lots, so com­mu­nity mem- bers can move into home own­er­ship.

In the open let­ter, the group of tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans and el­ders claimed trans­fer­ring land to or­di­nary free­hold would ef­fec­tively ruin the na­tive ti­tle and al­low Abo­rig­i­nal land to be sold to any­one.

Tra­di­tional cus­to­dian and Eastern Kuku Yalanji el­der Ben­nett Walker said there was no con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity by Ba­manga Bubu Ngadimunku.

‘‘It seemed like a hid­den agenda, we didn’t know about it un­til I read the pa­per and it dawned on us that BBN and who­ever else in­volved didn’t come and talk to the tra­di­tional own­ers,’’ he said.

‘‘They have done that a few times in the past and this time we said it’s gone far enough, they are go­ing to sell our land from un­der us, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen.

‘‘The BBN (ex­ec­u­tive and mem­ber­ship) is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans, the Ku­bir­ri­warra clan of the Kuku Yalanji peo­ples.’’

The group is con­cerned the pro­posed changes would un­der­mine the in­tegrity of the Moss­man Gorge Abor- ig­i­nal Com­mu­nity as a dis­tinct Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity com­prised of sub­stan­tially Kuku Yalanji peo­ple.

‘‘We be­lieve that the Moss­man Gorge Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity lands should be trans­ferred to an Aborig­nal Land Trust es­tab­lished for this pur­pose,’’ the let­ter said.

‘‘The ap­pro­pri­ate and ac­cept­able strat­egy is to cre­ate lease­hold lots whereby the land trust would re­tain own­er­ship and con­trol of the land and be re­spon­si­ble for the al­lo­ca­tion, pe­riod and terms of any leases.’’

Mr Walker said the pro­posal to move the land into an Abo­rig­i­nal land trust, run by the Ku­bir­ri­warra clan, would not af­fect home own­er­ship in the Moss­man Gorge com­mu­nity.

‘‘It’s not go­ing to af­fect peo­ple buy­ing their own houses, we want it to go un­der Abo­rig­i­nal free­hold not or­di­nary free­hold and it can work - places like Yarrabah are do­ing it,’’ he said.

‘‘Sell­ing the land from un­der my peo­ple is not on and it’s not go­ing to hap­pen.’’

To read the full open let­ter email Ben­nett Walker at yawu@ big­pond.com.

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