Anger over freehold moves
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.