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New South Wales: Githabul people secure a major native title agreement.

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Tuesday 2 January 2007

New South Wales: Githabul people secure a major native title agreement


PETER CAVE: After a decade of negotiations and legal wrangling, an Aboriginal group and the New South Wales Government are just weeks away from signing off on the state's biggest native title deal. 


The Indigenous Land Use Agreement will cover parts of the 6,000 square kilometre area in the northeast of the state. 


It will give the Githabul people a joint managerial control of World Heritage Listed national parks and control over future development on some areas of crown and leasehold land. 


The New South Wales Native Title Services group funded the claim, and its chief executive, Warren Mundine, has been speaking to Annie Guest.  


WARREN MUNDINE: Well, this is a bit of a watershed for the Githabul people. There's been a negotiation for many years now and, you know, we haven't fully finalised the whole process at the moment, but it's going to be a great outcome for them.  


It gives an opportunity for that community to have lands returned; it gives an opportunity for that community to have an economic base as well as a cultural base as well to operate from. 


ANNIE GUEST: What say will the Githabul people have, say, in the management of those national parks up there, and over future development in the region? 


WARREN MUNDINE: Well, native title affects all development, and the question of any development has to be they have to answer the native title question - is there native title interest in that area. That goes without saying. 


But for the Githabul people having a sign-off, having a termination situation, then that gives them the power and control of their country. 


ANNIE GUEST: There are opportunities for employment for the Githabul people. How many jobs could potentially be created in those national parks under this deal? 


WARREN MUNDINE: There's quite a lot that could be negotiated through. But, at the same time, these jobs are real jobs, they're not some sort of created jobs that's been done in the past in some other areas, these are jobs that are real employment.  


That's the good thing about this project, it's not some sort of subsidised or help type program, there's actually people who will be taking these jobs up will have to be on merit, will have employment, will have the skills, and these are real jobs that are needed by the national parks service. 


ANNIE GUEST: What is the broader significance of this Indigenous land use agreement in terms of any precedents set for other negotiations Australia-wide? 


WARREN MUNDINE: Well, for us it's, you know, New South Wales is the … everyone seems to think that New South Wales has not native title and doesn't exist, the Eastern Seaboard, but in actual fact, you know, the Eastern Seaboard had the first determination, that was the Dungri (phonetic) determination in Australia.  


There are a number of EWA (phonetic) situations that have been signed off, and there's quite a few that'll be coming through in the next few months. 


So this sort of destroys the myth that is out there in the wider Australian community, and it also, it also destroys another myth that governments and Aboriginal people cannot sit down and negotiate things. They obviously can. 


PETER CAVE: Warren Mundine from the New South Wales Native Title Services group speaking to Annie Guest.