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Questions remain over Wild Rivers declarations.

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Senator Ron Boswell  Senator for Queensland 


May 4th, 2010

“The Queensland government has left itself open to accusations that the Stewart, Archer and Lockhart Wild Rivers declarations may be invalid,” says The Nationals’ Senator Ron Boswell.

“The Queensland government has failed to fully respond to Questions on Notice from the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to provide evidence that Wild Rivers Declarations were properly made.”

“It is the second opportunity for Minister Robertson to table document ‘A’. He first mentioned it in documents responding to matters raised before the Committee. Other relating documents were attached, but not ‘A’. Senator Barnett then followed up with a specific request for document ‘A’, but Minister Robertson has again squibbed it.”

“Indigenous groups have been requesting evidence for months from Queensland authorities including the Governor.”

Senator Boswell said that it would be easy for the Queensland government to explain their actions if there was nothing to hide. “Leaving out documents makes the Qld government look guilty.”

“The core question that remains unanswered is whether the Minister fulfilled his obligations under the Wild Rivers Act to formally make the Declarations which then were to go to the Governor for approval.”

“There is a longstanding concern amongst indigenous people in the Wild River areas that the declarations were not formally made. This needs to be promptly addressed.”

“The Queensland government should clear this issue up immediately by providing proof that the Minister officially declared these rivers as Wild Rivers under the Act.”

“The Qld Minister was also obliged to table the Declarations in the Queensland Parliament, but he seems to have tabled documents which were not validly made declarations.”

“The Minister says in his answer to the Senate Committee that document ‘A’ is a version of the gazettal notice. Well, what is the problem with giving that version to the Committee? What’s the big secret?”

Senator Boswell said that the problems with the Wild Rivers regime in Queensland were growing every day. “The Anglican Church has come out and opposed Wild Rivers because of the impact on indigenous people’s rights to make themselves an economic future.”

“The impact is not only in indigenous areas. I predict there will be a huge outcry from the west once people there realise that land management in their river basins will also be frozen in time. The Cooper’s Creek, Diamantina and Georgina River basins are all proposed Wild Rivers.”