Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Water Craig Wallace today met representatives of traditional owners to discuss options for broader native title outcomes in Cape York Peninsula.
The parties confirmed that they would participate in negotiations to resolve native title, tenure and related issues on a sub-regional basis in the Cape.
“The Rudd Government is serious about encouraging broader social and economic outcomes from the resolution of native title claims,” Mr McClelland said.
“I look forward to the Commonwealth, Cape York Land Council and Queensland working together. Native title allows flexibility and we must all now embrace that opportunity.”
“Settling wider issues at the same time as settling native title claims can be a better outcome for all the parties involved” Mr Wallace said.
“We will ensure all the other respondent parties’ interests are acknowledged and that the government and applicant parties keep them informed of progress.”
The first sub-region to be considered will most likely be the area centred on the Cape township of Kowanyama. Housing and tenure issues are pressing matters of concern in the township and will require a co-ordinated approach by all levels of government. The Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has already committed to this process.
“The traditional owners of the area have matters that they want to see improved in the township and outside of the town on their traditional lands,” Mr Michael Ross, Chairperson of the Cape York Land Council, said.
Mr Ross considers that the opportunities presented by native title negotiations should be used to get the maximum benefit for the claimants and other parties.
“All the parties in native title will benefit from negotiating broader outcomes,” he said.
The parties will continue discussions in order to settle an agreed set of broad outcomes in respect of the native title claim by the Kowanyama Peoples. The success of this approach will determine the parties’ approach to other sub-regions including the Olkola and North-West Cape areas.
Mr Wallace noted that most native title claims in Queensland are outside the Cape region.
“If this approach proves successful it may have application in other regions of the State,” he said.
Media Contact: Adam Sims, Mr McClelland’s Office, 0419 480 224