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Minister reassures Larrakia Aboriginals

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(Statement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Les Johnson)

_ The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Les Johnson, said today that no further new work would be undertaken by Northern Territory · authorities in the Kulaluk land claim area without proper consultation with the Larrakia Aboriginals and the Northern Land Council.

Mr Johnson said the Larrakia Aboriginals recently complained to him about damage caused to a rain forest near,, the Tropicus Nursery in Darwin which is part of the Kulaluk land claim area. The damage was caused by the excavation of.a drain 30 feet wide and ten feet deep to accommodate a 2A - inch pipeline as part of the overall Darwin sewerage system.

The matter of 'the complaint was of quite some concern not only with regard to Aboriginal rights, but also environmentally.

The Northern Land Council had intervened on behalf of the Aboriginals. As a result, work in the area was stopped and on-site discussions were held between the Larrakia people, the Departments of Northern Australia and Housing and Construction and the Northern Land Council. .

The Minister said that the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission had approved in principle, subject to valuation, the acquisition of privately . held land in the area of the land claim. ·

• The approval followed consideration by the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission of a report prepared by the Interim Aboriginal Land-Commissioner for the Northern Territory, Hr Justice R.C. Ward.

Mr Johnson said there had been no consultation with the' Larrakia Aboriginals, the Northern Land Council or with his Department in regard to the excavation of the drain. This was because the design and programming had been completed by the construction authorities some two years previously and before any Aboriginal land claim had been lodged.

Mr Johnson said the Larrakia people had. now agreed for work to ’ proceed provided that certain conditions were fulfilled. These were —

. that the job be completed expeditiously

. that all soil be replaced

. that the devastated area be planted with grass.before the ”wet,\ season to reduce damage by erosion ’ ' ■ '

. that the Department of Northern Australia through its Forestry Branch assist with the replanting of the area with suitable trees to restore the area to its natural state. i _ * _ · . . · ■ ^ ■ . ·

The Departments concerned had accepted these conditions and the ‘

appropriate work would be carried out. -

Canberra A.C.T. 10 October 1975