Land agree­ments unify

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - Opinion - Emma Clay­ton and Tim Mayne­mu­ni­ d416212

THE State Gov­ern­ment has come to a long-an­tic­i­pated agree­ment with Noon­gar groups through­out WA with the sign­ing of six In­dige­nous Land Use Agree­ments (ILUAs) cov­er­ing 200,000sq km of the South-West.

Premier Colin Bar­nett and mem­bers of prin­ci­pal Noon­gar na­tive ti­tle claim groups agreed on the ILUAs re­cently, and they will now be filed with the Na­tional Na­tive Ti­tle Tri­bunal, which will de­ter­mine whether the agree­ments can be reg­is­tered.

Mr Bar­nett said the ex­e­cu­tion of the ILUAs was a sig­nif­i­cant step on the path to­wards the largest na­tive ti­tle set­tle­ment in Aus­tralian history, re­solv­ing all na­tive ti­tle claims in the South-West in ex­change for about $1.3 bil­lion in land and other ben­e­fits.

South West Abo­rig­i­nal Land and Sea Coun­cil ne­go­ti­ated with the State Gov­ern­ment to ar­rive at the terms of the set­tle­ment.

The na­tive ti­tle claims re­late to Whad­juk (cov­er­ing Perth metropoli­tan); the South West Boo­jarah (Bus­sel­ton, Pem­ber­ton, Nan­nup) and Harris Fam­ily (Yallingup, Mar­garet River); Bal­lar­dong (York, Northam, Hy­den, Kon­dinin); Wagyl Kaip (Katan­ning, Gnowangerup, Albany); Yued (Jurien, Moora, Lancelin, Gin­gin); and Gnaala Karla Boodja (Man­durah, Bunbury, Don­ny­brook).

Un­der the over­all agree­ment, an in­de­pen­dent Noon­gar Boodja Trust would be es­tab­lished, into which as­sets would be trans­ferred over 12 years. This in­cludes fund­ing of $50 mil­lion a year for 12 years.

Up to 320,000ha of Crown land would also be trans­ferred to the trust.

A key part of the agree­ment is that in the next year, State Par­lia­ment will be asked to pass the Noon­gar (Koorah, Nitja, Bo­or­dah­wan) (Past, Present, Fu­ture) Recog­ni­tion Bill, which recog­nises the Noon­gar peo­ple as tra­di­tional own­ers of the South-West and ac­knowl­edges their con­tri­bu­tion “to the her­itage, cul­tural iden­tity and econ­omy of the State”.

The tri­bunal will un­der­take a no­ti­fi­ca­tion pe­riod dur­ing which ob­jec­tions can be lodged ac­cord­ing to the terms of the Com­mon­wealth Na­tive Ti­tle Act 1993. The ILUAs can only come into ef­fect once they have been reg­is­tered by the tri­bunal.

Aca­demic Braden Hill, from Mur­doch Univer­sity’s Kul­bardi Cen­tre, said the deal was good news.

“It’s a story of unity in a way be­cause it is a bring­ing to­gether of dif­fer­ent claimants and is to the ben­e­fit of all Noon­gar peo­ple,” he said.

“Par­tic­u­lar groups have said they want to come to­gether and not just fam­i­lies.

“The sig­nif­i­cant re­sources pro­vided to Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple will al­low a greater level of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and then we will hope­fully see op­por­tu­ni­ties such as ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment pro­vided to Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple by Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple, which is a pow­er­ful thing.”

De­spite the agree­ment, Mr Hill be­lieves that Noon­gar peo­ple were still un­sure if they could trust the State Gov­ern­ment, be­cause of their “his­toric mis­trust in the gov­ern­ment”.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Aca­demic Braden Hill of Mur­doch Univer­sity’s Kul­bardi Cen­tre.

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