Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download PDFDownload PDF 

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
13/04/2010
Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill 2010 [No. 2]

CHAIR —Welcome. Do you have any comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?

Mr Woosup —I am from a community called Ankamuthi and that is in the jurisdiction of Mayor Joseph Elu, who was sitting here. I am from the Ankamuthi Seven River Tribe. My clan group is just north of Port Musgrave. We have seven consecutive rivers that are going to be affected by this legislation. Thank you.

Mr Kyle —The Umpila Traditional Owners that I represent are located from Princess Charlotte Bay right up to near the other side of Lockhart River.

Ms Yunkaporta —I am from Aurukun, I am a Wik person and my second language is English.

CHAIR —Thank you. Perhaps I can just clarify what we have. We have a letter from you, Ms Yunkaporta. I also have a piece of paper in front of me that is not signed. I just wonder whether we can clarify who that is from. It has 13 signatories; are these people some of those signatories? We do have your letter though, Ms Yunkaporta; it was given to us today. Would you all like to start by saying something to us? Who is going to start?

Mr Woosup —Yes, I will. First of all, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of where we actually congregate today to speak our thoughts and minds about this wild rivers legislation. What is being said today is really open and transparent and is being supported with the helpful guidance of the likes of the Balkanu Cape York Land Council, which is our representative body for our region. Thanks to those people.

I am speaking from my heart. I am speaking from a grassroots level, from a traditional owners’ perspective, and as a person who has had lots and lots of my 45 years of experience in Cape York. The rivers themselves: as I mentioned earlier, we have seven rivers in the western part of Cape York that also sort of go over to the Jacky Jacky estuary. I am part of the Injinoo Land Trust. We have 330,000 freehold title under the ALA Act—Senator McLucas was at that ceremony in Injinoo—and that was given to us to manage our country. Ever since that time the river has been in pristine order, as it is today.

About this legislation and the way it has sort of impacted on us, I am very supportive of Tony Abbott’s bill because it gives us some leverage, a door, into a stage of being recognised. It also gives us an opportunity to maybe look at ways of getting us to negotiate. I have heard other witnesses talk about not being consulted and all that, and that is true. In fact, in my part of the country, that is one of the major concerns that I face and raise. The Queensland government’s bill virtually takes our independent rights, our future rights, our economic rights and our children’s rights. With the gazetting of all these high-preservation areas and areas that we cannot develop, we are talking about a long-term vision here.

Look at the population growth of Australia now. We are looking at the impact of a high water level on the Torres Strait of. Where are these people going to come to? Are some of them going to migrate and reside in Cape York? Are these sorts of unseen factors being considered in this and needing to be raised? If you lock up the cape, where do people turn? Obviously they cannot go to the moon; you need big finance to go and live up there. So these are the sorts of issues that I see as being very important.

Also, how can we put a submission in? It is a really hard call. I know from previous government that, once you put a submission in, you always get knocked back. I have learned just from listening to these government people and the wild river supporters. They have said that a submission has to go to a different part of government for doors to open and to get a tick on it. But the very first door that is going to be open will probably get shut immediately because, firstly, it will be from an Indigenous background and, secondly, they do not want to see us prosper in the future. So these are some hidden issues that need to be aired and talked about hypothetically in your Senate inquiry. Thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Woosup.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Right on the money, brother!

CHAIR —Just before I go to Mr Kyle, I can inform you that the Northern Peninsula Area Traditional Owners have given us a submission and we have lodged that as No. 13, for Hansard’s purposes. Also, Ms Yunkaporta, your letter has been treated as a submission and we have numbered it 9 on the website. Mr Kyle, do you want to say some opening words?

Mr Kyle —I thank the committee for taking the time to hear some of our arguments that we would like to put towards people that would like to listen. I have had in-depth consultation with Balkanu Cape York Land Council, asking them to raise questions about how we were consulted. To my knowledge, when the government consults, it appears to be about what they want. There is no working together to deliver any decent sustainable outcome for people like me and a few of these others. As far as wild rivers itself is concerned, I have produced there a map and small photographs that you can see. Grab your pencil or pen and put it against the red line. That is a boundary where we went into partnership with national parks, thinking, ‘We know what we have to preserve and protect.’ We have spoken in-depth to scientists and everyone else, and we are still in partnership with the scientists and everyone else who comes up there. We take them out and ask them to show us different things and tell us what the names of these specific things are; and then we will tell them what they are called by our people.

We have never refused national parks, but I held them off for a long time to sign up on the ILUA for one specific reason: I wanted to know. I was not going to sign off on an ILUA if I did not understand it and I did not know what was going to be left for future generations; I did not want that. I wanted to know every detail of that ILUA and I have maintained that and I have succeeded in doing that. We are in a really good relationship with national parks and have created a national park but, in signing the agreement, we have given away 50 per cent of our land. I hope that this Senate committee here, now, which is listening, realises how much 50 per cent of everything represents. If I had a dollar, I would probably still give 50c away. But there is a massive amount of land and when we went into negotiations and worked it all out. We are in a partnership. We know what to protect. We also get advice about the land from scientists. But, if you drop your pencil just past the red line, you will see that that is how much land we will have—because, by the time the beach protection plan comes into play here, what have we got left? We have wild rivers running straight through there.

Now, when is a creek a river? We do not have rivers there. The nearest river to me is the Stewart River. The Massey is Massy Creek. It is a narrow, little creek running down through there and flowing directly out into the ocean. That is only about four or five kilometres of river, but they call it the Massey River. It is not a river but a creek and yet it is still declared. When we first heard about this, what was said to us was: ‘Oh, okay, wild rivers is going to come in.’ We had never heard about any wild river basin or anything else. I have had five people come to my house. You do not conduct meetings at houses, but this is the way that the NR&W—if they were the people who were doing this—conducts their business: by sneaking around people’s houses, especially Indigenous people, and filling them full of rubbish so that they will agree with whatever the Wilderness Society tells them to do. There was no proper consultation at all. Every time we had meetings up in Coen, a representative from wild rivers turned up all right, but there was only one fellow who had a talk one on one to somebody and that was that. There was no in-depth consultation. All we knew was that wild rivers were going to be declared on us.

Madam Chair, I might add another little thing about a Noel Pearson episode. Noel Pearson did not make these statements on his own; Noel Pearson, to my knowledge—and I am being honest with you—was way up near Port Douglas when I got Balkanu to call him and ask him to come back and represent us and be our voice, because Balkanu is our voice. You might say a lot of things here to us that we cannot comprehend; we will not understand what you are saying. But, with assistance and help from Balkanu, we will achieve something—not by coming into people’s houses, like members of the wild river group or the Wilderness Society were doing, asking us to get in and sign these documents to be part of wild rivers.

Ms Yunkaporta —I would like to acknowledge the place where we sit now and I would like to acknowledge my people behind me for their support in having to encounter something as complicated as the wild rivers legislation.

CHAIR —Senator Boswell, do you have any questions?

Senator BOSWELL —Yes, I do. I am asking a question on the statement that you have just made: did the Wilderness Society approach you and ask you to sign up?

Mr Kyle —No. It was DNR&W at that time, which I think is now DERM; I am not quite sure.

Senator BOSWELL —So they have come around to see you?

Mr Kyle —Yes. Five of them came around to my house while I was repairing my vehicle.

Senator BOSWELL —What about the Wilderness Society? Where do they fit into this?

Mr Kyle —No. We had a meeting with the Wilderness Society, on notice that day from the minister. What’s his damn name? It was the one before Stephen Robertson. Anyway, he told us that, if we wanted to have extra time, we would have to go and meet with the Wilderness Society.

Senator BOSWELL —Yes. I have brought that up actually and I have asked—

Mr Kyle —Okay. That was actually told to me at a meeting. Craig Wallace—

Senator BOSWELL —Craig Wallace told you to see the Wilderness Society to ask for an extension of time.

Mr Kyle —Correct.

Senator BOSWELL —For the life of me, I cannot see what this has to do with the Wilderness Society. They are not an elected body and they do not represent a government, but they seem to have a great influence with the state government. For them to just hand their responsibility to an unelected body is wrong. But I have looked at your submission and am going to ask you some questions—and Ms Yunkaporta may wish you to answer for her. This question is to you, but I have some for her too. Why do you think the Queensland government would declare wild rivers on your land without your consent?

Mr Kyle —Simply because they have the support of people like those of the Wilderness Society who want to declare everything green. Why declare a creek under wild rivers? I would like to know that myself. Why declare a creek that is not running right throughout the season a wild river? To me, wild rivers is like when my ancestors were here. Prior to the invasion, my ancestors stood up there with the loin cloth on one leg and spear in hand, looking across through the inlet. That is what ‘wild’ actually means to me.

Senator BOSWELL —Do you find it insulting to have the stewardship of your rivers taken away from you after the 40,000 years that you have been looking after them and for someone now to come and tell you, ‘Well, you haven’t done it properly’?

Mr Kyle —If the Senate committee had the time and I had the resources to get you up there, I would like each and every one of you to have a look at the country and see how much land I have for a sustainable future for my grandchildren and their grandchildren—and it is protected; it is not rubbished. We clean up at our own expense after anyone comes in there, anyway.

Senator BOSWELL —Are you on DOGIT land or station land?

Mr Kyle —We have freehold title to the land of Silver Plains and Massey River.

Senator BOSWELL —Okay; I know where it is. Under your customs, how important is it if your decision-making and responsibility for the country are taken away from you?

Mr Kyle —How important would dethroning the Queen be to the British Empire?

Senator BOSWELL —To some of these Labor people, it would be great but I am a monarchist.

Mr Kyle —I am being direct to you, Senator.

Senator BOSWELL —How many traditional owners want the Queensland wild rivers legislation?

Mr Kyle —How many?

Senator BOSWELL —Traditional owners. You are representing traditional owners.

Mr Kyle —That is right. In my area alone, there are four clan groups. Under the Umpila banner, there are four traditional-owner clan groups and we each nominate our boundaries by rivers and creeks. So I am talking about the Nesbit, the Chester, the Rocky and the Massey. The Rocky and the Massey: for goodness sake, they are little creeks; they are not rivers. I wish something would have been done years ago to—

Senator BOSWELL —This is important: you are here representing traditional owners.

Mr Kyle —Yes, I am.

Senator BOSWELL —I am asking you: how much support is there for the Queensland wild rivers legislation? How many clan groups want it and how many do not want it?

Mr Kyle —To my knowledge, none of my clan group that I can actually speak on behalf of want it.

Senator BOSWELL —You might want to answer this for Ms Yunkaporta, or she may want to answer it herself. In your submission, you say that the Archer wild river area was declared without proper consultation with the traditional owners and council and without the consent of traditional owners. Can you take us through what occurred and what consultation should have happened? This might be hard if your second language is English. Do you understand the question?

Ms Yunkaporta —Yes. I want you to be patient, as English is my second language.

Senator BOSWELL —Yes.

Ms Yunkaporta —With the legislation being put in without consultation on the ground itself and especially with non-English speaking people, to declare a wild river over Archer and most of the rivers to the south of the Archer River, it really would be wise for politicians such as you to come to country and have a look at how vast the area really is and to whom it belongs and is known and has belonged and has been known. Our ancestors passed it on to our forefathers and now we want to pass it on to our younger generation. We are a conservative group, you have to remember. Our ancestors have looked after the land for 40,000 years now and we have given approval and the go-ahead to mining companies to work on country, but what about our livelihood? We want to better ourselves for the future, really. We want to start thinking about putting up micro-enterprises, in order to make some sort of income to have our younger generation educated in a way that makes them able to compete with the outside world in your Western culture.

Senator BOSWELL —You want to see them off welfare.

Ms Yunkaporta —We would like them to be wealthy in order to have a better education for the future, as it is very competitive in this world today.

Senator SIEWERT —In terms of the consultation process, I want to talk about two areas. First off, when the original Wild Rivers Act was introduced, what was the level of consultation?

Mr Woosup —I can answer that. I go back to when we had negotiations with the gas pipeline project from Papua New Guinea up at Cape York. At that time, at Palm Cove, we noticed that greenies—those people who were here—and government officials in DNR—were sifting through a lot of the traditional owners. Now, remember, we were there negotiating this pipeline process.

Senator BOSWELL —And the Wilderness Society was there?

Mr Woosup —Yes, the Wilderness Society—and the Environmental Protection Agency, I guess. I noticed that they were coming in and asking questions, and it was not relevant to the actual project. But—this is going back to 2004-05 now—I noticed that these people were talking to maybe one or two people and, on that assumption, on that base, they went back to their superior in Brisbane and said, ‘Look, I’ve had a talk with Massey people.’ Just because he was at our gathering at Palm Cove does not mean that he got the tick that everybody was agreed. This is how government bureaucrats operate in Cape York. They seem to pick the right time, when we have big meetings in place. They come, like a thief in the night, and swivel themselves around, talking to people and confusing them. This is a legality about which you, the Senate committee, must question the government department. It is a practice that has been happening for years; I am aware of it and a lot of our people are aware of it. This thing goes way back to those days, and I can recall it.

Senator SIEWERT —For the act, was that the only consultation that you were involved with?

Mr Woosup —A thief comes to your house and has a chat with your granddad: do you call that consultation, taking ideas? Then he goes back and speaks to his superiors, saying, ‘Look, I’ve got consent from an individual.’ That was not proper consultation that occurred on that day. It was only prior to the election that we noticed that legislation had been passed. It was in the paper and everything and it was a surprise: ‘From now on’—you know. Basically, with where the Queensland government has put the likes of the Greens and the wild river mob, the bloody horse has bolted before the cart, sort of thing. This is where the legality is: first, engaging with the grassroots level. This is problematic with bureaucrats when they come to a community, especially in the Cape York, and they are good at doing it: they are good at confusing blackfellas.

Senator SIEWERT —Thank you. In terms of the most recent declarations, were you involved in the meetings? I am being careful about how I say this because Balkanu gave evidence this morning that they were responsible not for carrying out the consultation but for setting up the consultation process. Were you involved in that consultation process? They said that they organised up to 30 or 40 various meetings.

Mr Woosup —We had one river camp group that would go up to Cape York, and people like Tracey Ludwick and others. Balkanu supported us on that aspect. We used to go up to the communities. We had to give up our own daily life, I guess, to go up and speak the word of the wild rivers stuff, how it was going to affect us, and to look at the pros and cons. From our gatherings, we covered the whole cape from Aurukun, Pormpuraaw and up the tip of Cape York. We also shared some ideas with the Torres Strait people, who are leaders in Cape York, because a lot of these people use a lot of our rivers. So we had to do that with the support of our people at that level, but nothing was coming from the Wilderness Society or the Queensland government.

Senator SIEWERT —Was the process that you undertook—I am trying to come up with a phrase other than ‘consultation process’, because Balkanu are very clear that they did not undertake the consultation process; they facilitated a process—funded by Balkanu out of the money that they were given to organise the consultation process?

Mr Woosup —It may well have been, but I don’t know. I guess, with the consultation and things, what Balkanu did at the end of the day was to coordinate and get people together. As for the survival of the Greens or the government at the end of the day, they have to go up there; it is their legislation. It is not ours; it is not Balkanu’s legislation. We did not put this act together. It has to pass through the Senate and the parliament, so they have a responsibility to go up there and talk about the documentation. That did not happen in that case. We had to go up there, looking at information about how it would affect us. One other thing I would like to know is: who were these 3,000 applicants? I want to know that.

Senator BOSWELL —Who were the 3,000 people who put submissions in.

Mr Woosup —Three thousand people put submissions in. How many of those submissions were from Cape York Aboriginal people who are being affected by this wild river legislation?

Mr Kyle —I would like to know that as well.

Mr Woosup —We would like to know numbers and not just guessing about it and looking into a crystal ball. These are facts that even a lot of us are seeking, particularly from the wild rivers mob and the government.

Senator SIEWERT —Thank you.

Senator BARNETT —You have covered a lot of ground in terms of the consultation process. Let me just say up-front: thank you very much for being here. You have made a big effort. It would be good if we could perhaps visit you up in your country, but thank you for being here today; it is appreciated. In terms of the consultation process, earlier during the inquiry we heard of the importance of getting informed consent from Aboriginal communities and traditional owners. The Australian government, on behalf of the Australian people, has signed an international declaration. It is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; you have probably heard about it. Article 19 of that declaration says:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

So you would say that the Queensland government has breached that article.

Mr Kyle —I would strongly suggest that the government is in breach of that. Going on from there, if I may:

… indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands …

This comes from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Senator BARNETT —It is the same declaration. Thank you very much.

Mr Kyle —Thank you, Senator.

Senator BARNETT —No problem at all. My final question relates to the bill that is before the Senate committee, which was put forward by Mr Abbott. I just want to read clause 5 to you, as it is a key feature of the bill; it is just one sentence. It states:

The development or use of native title land in a wild river area cannot be regulated under the relevant Queensland legislation unless the Aboriginal traditional owners of the land agree.

Do you support that proposition?

Mr Kyle —That is my understanding of the Native Title Act anyway. I am not by any means a lawyer or whatever it might be, but my skills and my way of talking to the senators here today is from life skills. I have lived long enough. I am nearly 70 and, if I have lived this long and my part of the country is still protected, don’t you think that is what it is all about: preserving and looking after what you have for the generation that is coming after you?

Senator BARNETT —That is fantastic—wonderful.

CHAIR —On the basis of that though, you would not need this legislation. If you believed that the Native Title Act provides that protection, you would not need this proposed legislation, would you?

Mr Kyle —We do not want wild rivers and I have stressed that enough to ministers or any people that will listen to me. Look, we went into a partnership with national parks and we have that. As soon as we started getting on really good terms with the EPA and national parks, what comes along? A declaration on wild rivers. I do not know what these people want to do to us, whether they want to put stumbling blocks in our way. How many people can obtain funding from the bank when their land is tied up? Our land is tied up. Do you know how long my family and I have lived down on Silver Plains Homestead for? Five years. And do you know how? My pension and their little bit of CDEP money. If I were to go to the bank and ask for a loan, the first thing they would ask me is, ‘What sort of collateral have you got behind you there to support this?’

Senator BOSWELL —What sort of title is—

CHAIR —Senator Barnett, have you finished?

Senator BARNETT —No. I have had a question and I would like—

CHAIR —Yes, that is what I am saying. Would you like to finish?

Mr Woosup —Can I raise something about you have just said, Senator?

Senator BARNETT —Yes, of course.

Mr Woosup —Getting to the point on the Native Title Act and the legislation, the Abbott plan is a fixed solution for us Indigenous people because it gives us an opportunity to go in and voice our concern under the Native Title Act regime. To me, the Commonwealth should override state law on anything, because the Native Title Act protects our interests.

Senator BARNETT —The point is that you want to have your say in how your land is developed and what you do with your land, and this is the key feature of the bill before us. You have looked after your land, as have your generations before you, and you want to pass it on to your kids and grandkids for generations to come.

Mr Kyle —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —You want to look after it. If I am correct, the point I see you expressing is that you do not want the government to come in over the top of you, without consultation and without any consent from you, and just slam the legislation or regulation on you. The bill before us says: that cannot happen. That is what I am asking: do you support that approach?

Mr Woosup —Yes, we do.

Mr Kyle —I do and, I think, very strongly because, when they talk about preservation and conservation, who are we? What have we been doing? We never smashed the country up. I hear referred to a lot the big mistakes that Europeans have made over the centuries. Okay, they compare us with the Murray-Darling Basin, the great South East. We are not that stupid. No great big buildings are going to be constructed there for tourists to come and stay in, like the one we are in now. No. When we talk about tourism, we talk about ecotourism. That is the sort of tourism venture we talk about. No-one is going to go on my country, unless one of our traditional owners are with them, if they want to see what is on our country and if they want to know or learn. Even the scientists take us or a member of our clan group along with them. In that way we know that things are protected.

Senator McLUCAS —Thank you for travelling so far to come and talk before us today. I hear really strongly that you have been great custodians of your land for 40,000 years. The bit that I am trying to get my head around is: what is it that the Queensland legislation stops you from doing; what does it stop you from doing in terms of your aspirations?

Mr Woosup —Basically, it stops our future economic prosperity with that asset. It stops us being self-sufficient. It stops us—

Senator McLUCAS —How does it do that? This is the bit where there are different opinions.

Mr Woosup —This legislation stops us getting at our natural resource. We are entitled to pick up materials that belong to us and produce them into the market and get a revenue based system there. We are looking at the establishment of capital effort in the cape. This legislation is going to stop that. It is a disaster.

Senator McLUCAS —There are two sets of opposing views. Some people say that it will stop everything and that it is a lockup and no economic activity can occur; on the other hand, others say that basically everything, except strip mining down the middle of the river or large-scale irrigation areas, is allowed and it is just a matter of making an application and going through the process of approval. What I am trying to get from the three of you is an understanding about the sort of economic development you would like to undertake in your respective areas and whether you think the Queensland legislation stops you from doing that.

Mr Kyle —If I may, I am talking about declaring wild rivers on people like us. I cannot speak for anybody else’s country, but I can speak for my country. I have given you a map and directions on how much land I can utilise for a sustainable future. How much is that from here to the middle of the road out the front here? Is that very much land? You would kick up a stink—anybody would—but this is what is going to take place. I cannot draw water out of the river. That is what I was told by Ross Brown, one of these people who came around to my house to consult with me about wild rivers. What consulting? I was repairing a vehicle when he called around there with his cronies. So they do these backdoor deals.

Senator McLUCAS —So you have been told that you cannot extract water?

Mr Kyle —Yes. You can do it, but how many Indigenous people that you know can sit down and fill out a 20-page application to do something on their own country—

Senator McLUCAS —I understand.

Mr Kyle —that was given back to them on a freehold basis? How many people that you know on Cape York are able to do that? Not very many.

Senator McLUCAS —But that is why we have organisations to assist people.

Mr Kyle —That is why we are utilising Balkanu.

Senator McLUCAS —Sure, yes.

Mr Kyle —We cannot do that. It is totally impossible for a lot of us to do that.

Senator McLUCAS —Mr Kyle, you were talking to one of the department people about water extraction. What did you want to do with the water?

Mr Kyle —That is our main source of life form. We get fish from the water, we drink water and we have our bath and stuff like that in the creek water.

Senator McLUCAS —So it would be for domestic use; you would use it to run your house.

Mr Kyle —Exactly. We are not going to use it to irrigate thousands and thousands of hectares of cotton, like the great Darling Basin. No, we are not that stupid. We have seen the downfall of what a white person can do to country. We know what they can do, and that is why we are glad we got our country back. But, with these pieces of legislation being thrown on us, they are putting in front of us other stumbling blocks to make it harder for us, especially for older people like me.

Senator McLUCAS —I suppose I am trying to get a practical example of what people want to do with their country that this legislation stops.

Mr Kyle —We have not spoken about that in much depth after hearing that wild rivers was going to be declared for all the creeks as well as the rivers; so that put us on hold. We cannot go ahead and do the things that we want to do. I would like to have a small cattle industry—and I am not talking about on a large scale; I am talking about something on four legs that I could use for collateral if my little ecotourism venture breaks down. When people go there, how am I going to pump water for their survival from the creek a kilometre up land? They want drinking water, of course, and they want to have a shower.

Senator BOSWELL —So you are saying that you cannot develop an ecotourism system on the bank of the creek and you cannot clear it.

Mr Kyle —No, you cannot clear it.

Senator BOSWELL —That is what we have been told: you cannot clear it. You can pump water, I would imagine, for yourselves—

Mr Kyle —For domestic use.

Senator BOSWELL —for domestic use. But you are talking about wanting to pump water for an ecotourism area.

Mr Kyle —That is right.

Senator McLUCAS —I thought Mr Kyle was saying that it would be for grazing.

Mr Kyle —And how far is that going to get me? Where am I going to get the funding to purchase all the equipment? It is hard for people like me.

Mr Woosup —One of the things that I see especially as being a real advantage to our people up in the cape is small garden enterprise that we could send to the local market. Can you imagine how much it would cost for a cabbage or a tomato up on Cape York?

Senator McLUCAS —I know.

Mr Woosup —That then brings in some sort of freezing stage, as it would only take about a day or two to get really rotten and soft. These are the sorts of factors that make our people sick; they are diabetic, you know. The health issues start to come in and the social impacts start to happen. This is where country and the river is part of us; it is part of our healing sources.

Senator McLUCAS —I understand that totally. The thing that I am having difficulty with is that, on one hand, people are saying that those sorts of activities are, in fact, allowed and then you are saying that you believe they are not allowed.

Mr Woosup —Yes, because—

Senator McLUCAS —How do we know what is true?

Mr Woosup —Excuse me, Senator. We have had a meeting with one of the government people. They said that whatever products or things we can grow, or whatever, can be only for personal use; they cannot be used for marketing.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Can I assist the committee with this?

Senator BOSWELL —You cannot put a market—

Mr Woosup —So this is part of the legislation; it is a factor that has been built into it. These are the sorts of hidden factors that need to be exposed.

Senator McLUCAS —Can we ask the state department to respond to that, Mr Woosup?

—Yes, sure.

Senator McLUCAS —Thank you.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Can I ask a question?

CHAIR —Senator Heffernan, it is seven o’clock and we have another witness to go.

Senator HEFFERNAN —I will just ask a quick question.

CHAIR —Senator Heffernan, just a moment. Ms Yunkaporta has something that she wants to say.

Ms Yunkaporta —The legislation is so very complicated. We have to get our head around it to absorb what is in it. Having to do that as an Aboriginal person—like I have already stated, English is my second language—how complicated and complex can you make a situation for the future of our younger generation? We put up a good fight for them today for them to carry this forward, but how long are we going to be fighting for a cause that we know is truly ours? The land is ours and we know it is ours.

There is the flora and fauna that is there on the land and in the rivers. To us, as Aboriginal people, the flora and fauna are totemic symbols. In the river itself, there are totems. On the land itself, too, there are totems that we believe we are connected to. We consider them in language as Puulway. Consideration needs to be given to a full extent to someone who is a non-English speaking person. I have to make space to be able to grapple with your Western society and I have to live in both worlds. I am doing the best I can to live in both worlds and to have an understanding of what I have to provide for you today, in order to better the world for tomorrow for the younger generation and for my people behind me.

CHAIR —Mr Kyle, did you want to say something in finishing?

Mr Kyle —I heard a little earlier on here remarks about bushfires and the massive burning that took place on Cape York. I wonder whether the guy who was on the phone realises that a lot of tourists go up to Cape York. Maybe he can hear me.

CHAIR —I hope he can. Senator Heffernan, can you hear this?

Senator HEFFERNAN —I am listening, buddy.

Mr Kyle —My comment for you, mate, is that a lot of bloody tourists go up to Cape York. Because you are not from up there and you have not been on that country—

Senator HEFFERNAN —I have—

Mr Kyle —how do you know that tourists are not throwing matches along the side of the road, as that was what created the last bushfire?

Senator HEFFERNAN —Yes, mate—

Mr Kyle —For myself, I have had some pretty good comments from the CSIRO re the burning regime used by me, mate, and I got a pat on the back for that.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Yeah, mate. I’ve been burnt out by people chucking a cigarette out of a car.

Mr Kyle —You’re probably one of them!

CHAIR —Senator Heffernan, we are getting a bit burnt out too. It is time to finish up.

Senator HEFFERNAN —I wanted to ask a question relevant to the whole issue of bankability of economic opportunity for the Indigenous people. I would like to congratulate these witnesses; theirs has been fantastic evidence.

CHAIR —Thank you, Senator Heffernan. We are moving on to the next lot now.

CHAIR —Mr Woosup, Mr Kyle and Ms Yunkaporta, thank you very much for your time this evening.

[7.00 pm]