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Wild Rivers divides Indigenous leaders -

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Wild Rivers divides Indigenous leaders

Broadcast: 29/09/2010

Reporter:

Queensland's Wild Rivers legislation has attracted criticism from the Anglican church, but support
from some traditional owners.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The Anglican Church has weighed into the debate over Queensland's
controversial wild rivers legislation, releasing a report which is scathing of the State
Government.

The report claims the laws erode Indigenous rights and stifle economic growth.

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has welcomed the study, but some traditional owners met in Canberra
today to lobby against the Federal Opposition's plan to try to overturn the state laws.

Ynja Bjornsson reports.

YNJA BJORNSSON, REPORTER: Queensland's pristine rivers are undoubtedly worth preserving. Five years
ago the State Government moved to protect them from certain types of development.

But a report released by the Anglican Church is scathing of the wild rivers legislation and calls
for the immediate moratorium on the declaration until proper consent is given by traditional
owners.

PETER CATT, ANGLICAN CHURCH: Decades have been spent finding - giving Indigenous people rights to
land and now we're taking away their right to use their land for any good purpose.

YNJA BJORNSSON: Long-time opponent of the laws Noel Pearson says they rob traditional owners of
economic opportunities and perpetuate the welfare cycle.

NOEL PEARSON, CAPE YORK LAND COUNCIL: We now have an umpire who's come in and produced an objective
and comprehensive analysis.

YNJA BJORNSSON: But not everyone agrees.

DAVID CLAUDIE, TRADITIONAL LAND OWNER: Wild rivers support sustainable industries, sustainable
business.

YNJA BJORNSSON: As a traditional owner and a successful ecotourism operator, Gina Castelain says
she's surprised by Noel Pearson's comments that economic development is being stifled by the
legislation.

GINA CASTELAIN, TRADITIONAL LAND OWNER: I would really like to know what is it actually going to
stop 'cause so far we've got earth-moving businesses, we've got tourism businesses that we run.

YNJA BJORNSSON: Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is expected to introduce a private members'
bill to Parliament tomorrow in a bid to overturn the wild rivers laws.

ANNA BLIGH, QLD PREMIER: These matters will come down to the views of the independents. I expect
and hope that they will take into account all sides of the debate.

YNJA BJORNSSON: Like the rivers in question, debate will rage for some time through the corridors
of power.

Ynja Bjornsson, Lateline.