Bon­ner fam­ily bat­tle to prove claim on land

The Queensland Times - - NEWS - He­len Speli­tis he­len.speli­[email protected]

THE de­scen­dants of Aus­tralia’s most well-known in­dige­nous politi­cian are des­per­ately try­ing to prove their her­itage, amid claims their group is made up.

The fam­ily of Neville Bon­ner, Aus­tralia’s first in­dige­nous mem­ber of par­lia­ment, are in a bat­tle to re­gain recog­ni­tion af­ter their claim was suc­cess­fully over­thrown and an agree­ment with Ip­swich City Coun­cil sus­pended.

The Jagera group has long been re­garded as tra­di­tional own­ers of the land cov­er­ing Ip­swich and sur­rounds, along with the Yug­gera and Ugara­pul peo­ple. But a na­tive ti­tle claim lodged by the Yug­gera Ugara­pul peo­ple ap­proved in Au­gust, means that recog­ni­tion has been ex­tin­guished.

In 2008, Ip­swich City Coun­cil was the first in Queens­land to sign an In­dige­nous Land Use Agree­ment (ILUA) with the three recog­nised tra­di­tional owner groups.

An ILUA is an agree­ment be­tween in­dige­nous peo­ple and coun­cils to en­sure fair land use and fair con­sul­ta­tion over devel­op­ment, for ex­am­ple. The ILUA was sus­pended by the coun­cil, fol­low­ing the ac­cep­tance of the new claim lodged with the Na­tional Na­tive Ti­tle Tri­bunal, which ren­dered the old agree­ment “null and void”.

Madonna Thom­son, one of Neville Bon­ner’s de­scen­dants and Jagera Daran Pty Ltd Di­rec­tor, a cul­tural her­itage con­sul­ta­tion com­pany, said she had al­ways been told she was a Jagera woman.

“When Grandpa Neville was elected to the Se­nate, he made no bones about his iden­tity as a Jagera man. He proudly pro­claimed it,” she said. “In the thirty years from Grandpa Neville’s elec­tion un­til the time of his death, no­body chal­lenged his iden­tity as a Jagera man, nor the fact that our fam­ily’s an­ces­tors were Jagera.”

El­der Aunty Pat Thomp­son grew up in Ip­swich and is the de­scen­dant of King Billy Turner, ac­knowl­edged as the Chief of the Yug­gera tribe, ac­cord­ing to Ip­swich City Coun­cil’s records.

The 72-year-old great grand­daugh­ter of King Billy didn’t hear the name ‘Jagera’ un­til about 1960.

Lawyer Trevor Haff rep­re­sents the Yug­gera peo­ple and helped lodge the new claim. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Haff, the Jagera’s na­tive ti­tle claim was dis­con­tin­ued be­cause they could not show their con­nec­tion to the area.

He said from the mo­ment the new claim was ac­cepted; “the Jagera peo­ple had no of­fi­cial role what­so­ever in the area.”

A coun­cil spokesper­son said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was keen to or­gan­ise a new agree­ment.

“Coun­cil is very keen to ne­go­ti­ate a new ILUA with the Abo­rig­i­nal Party to en­sure that pos­i­tive en­gage­ment be­tween coun­cil and tra­di­tional own­ers can con­tinue,” the spokesper­son said.

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