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Return of land ends long wait for Warumungu



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J k S a L ยท . M F D IA P

The Hon. Robert Tickner MR

fa RETURN OF LAND ENDS LONG WAIT FOR WARUMUNGU

One of the most dispossessed groups of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory - the Warumungu - regained part of their traditional lands in a special ceremony near Tennant Creek today.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Robert Tickner, presented' title to 2852 square kilometres of vacant Crown land to Warumungu representatives on the land, north east of Tennant Creek.

The land stretches east from the landmark "Three Ways," the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways which link the

Northern Territory and Queensland.

The return of the land follows a 13-year campaign by the

Warumungu to regain part of their land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act.

In recommending land be returned to the Warumungu, the then Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Mr Justice Maurice, wrote in 1988 that the post-European settlement history of the Warumungu was "an unvarnished tale of the subordination of an Aboriginal

society and its welfare to European interests."

He said the Warumungu had been "shunted around, right up to the 1960s, to accommodate various pastoral and mining interests.1 1 The process included the withdrawal,in 1962 of a reserve granted to the Warumungu in perpetuity. '

The .1978 Warumungu land claim was stalled in 1982 when the NT Government purported to grant leases in perpetuity over some of the areas under claim to the Northern Territory Land Corporation.

The claim resumed in 1985 after the High Court ruled the

Aboriginal Land Commissioner's inquiry could proceed.

The land returned to the Warumungu today is the first, and

biggest, of 15 areas near Tennant Creek recommended for return by Mr Justice Maurice. Other areas - await NT Government

endorsement of a package agreed by all parties for settlement of detriment issues relating to the Tennant Creek town boundaries.

Mr Tickner said the return of the Warumungu land was an example of how a wide range of interested groups could cooperate on Aboriginal land claims. The return had been aided by a meeting of representatives from Commonwealth, NT, Tennant Creek and the

Central Land Council. "

"A resolution of the outstanding claims will aid all of the people of Tennant Creek by ending the uncertainty that has surrounded this issue," he said.

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"The NT Government has before it the basis of an agreement supported by the traditional owners, the Central Land Council, the Tennant Creek Town Council and the Commonwealth.

"I urge the NT to consider the outstanding claims as a matter of priority."

Mr Tickner congratulated the Warumungu on the return of the land.

"For those who have had to wait so long for recognition of their rights, it is some comfort to know that their land can be passed to future generations, thus giving them a base for the protection of their language and culture," he said.

The land returned to the Warumungu is bounded on the east by the Rockhampton Downs pastoral lease, on the north by Rockhampton Downs and Brunchilly leases, on the south by the Tennant Creek pastoral lease and vacant Crown land, and on the west by the

Phillip Creek lease.

May 23, 1991

Further information: Paul Willoughby (06) 2777620 (office) (06) 2962577 (home)