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Native Title - negotiation is the key



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Media Release

6 M ay 1998

NATIVE TITLE - NEGOTIATION IS THE KEY

ATSIC C h a irm a n , G atjil D je rrk u ra , sp e a k in g in S ydney a t th e B e y o n d W ik M aking N ative Title W ork co n feren ce, called for goodwill a n d n eg o tiatio n to e n d th e n a tio n a l im p a s se o n n ativ e title,

"Too m u c h of th e a rg u m e n t a b o u t W ik a n d n ativ e title h a s b e e n a b o u t th e p o litic s of division, c o n fro n ta tio n a n d u n c e rta in ty . Too m u c h h a s b e e n a b o u t p o litical o p p o rtu n is m . Too little h a s b e e n a b o u t fin d in g co m m o n g ro u n d .

N egotiation is th e k e y ,” Mr D je rrk u ra told th e co n feren ce.

M r D je rrk u ra s a id th a t only th re e o p tio n s w ere av ailab le to g o v e rn m e n ts a n d s ta k e h o ld e rs in th e ir collective re s p o n s e to Wik a n d n ativ e title: to n eg o tiate, to le g isla te o r to litigate.

“My p eo p le h a v e alw ay s believed th e firs t op tio n to b e th e b e st.

“N egotiation is th e A boriginal way.

“It p ro d u c e s a c le a r outcom e.

“It is o n e th a t is ow ned b y all p a rtie s w ho h av e b e e n a t th e n eg o tia tin g

ta b le .”

Mr D je rrk u ra c o m m en d ed th e a p p ro a c h o f th e H ick so n s, p a s to ra lis ts from Q u e e n s la n d , w h o w o rk ed o u t a n a g re e m e n t w ith A boriginal eld ers of th e G arin g b a l people a fte r a n ativ e title claim h a d b e e n lodged over th e ir

p ro p erty .

“M r H ic k so n a p p e a rs to h a v e ap p lied w h a t m a n y s ta k e h o ld e rs in th is d e b a te h av e m is s e d - p la in co m m o n sen se.

“M r H ick so n a n d a grow ing n u m b e r of A u s tra lia n s a re re a lisin g th a t for A boriginal p eo p le la n d is n o t a re a l e s ta te com m odity.

“It is a life so u rc e . It is a so u rc e of s p iritu a l n o u ris h m e n t.

“If p a s to ra lis ts a n d fa rm e rs see th e m se lv e s a s c u s to d ia n s o f th e n a tio n ’s a g ric u ltu ra l food bow l, m a n y of o u r people see th e m se lv e s rightly - in th e ir re la tio n s h ip to th e la n d a s th e c u s to d ia n s of th e n a tio n a l’s s p iritu a l a n d c u ltu ra l food bow l.”

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ATC I ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMISSION r \ I , 3 1 V - . M IC TOWER BUILDING, PHILLIP, ACT, 2606. TEL: (06] 289 1222 FAX: (06) 282 2554

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M r D je rrk u ra a tta c k e d th e G o v ern m en t’s in te n tio n to ero d e th e R ight to N egotiate e s ta b lish e d in th e N ative Title A c t 1993.

“T he R ig h t to N egotiate is a n effective m e a n s by w h ich n ativ e title h o ld e rs a n d c la im a n ts m a y s e e k to e n s u re p ro te c tio n of sig n ifican t s p iritu a l a n d c u ltu ra l a re a s .”

Mr D je rrk u ra to ld th e conference th a t th e only o th e r legislative p ro te c tio n for A boriginal h e rita g e is also now u n d e r th re a t, w ith th e in tro d u c tio n in to P a rlia m e n t of a bill to rep la ce th e Aboriginal a n d Torres Strait Isla n d er H eritage Protection A c t 1 984.

T h is bill, if e n ac ted , will see a n effective C om m onw ealth w ith d raw al from In d ig e n o u s h e rita g e p ro te c tio n , w ith resp o n sib ility devolved to th e S ta te s a n d T erritories.

“T h is m e a n s th a t - u n d e r th e H ow ard G o v ern m en t’s a g e n d a - A boriginal p eo p le will lose th e ir rig h ts in b o th co n tex ts.

“T his is a d o u b le je o p a rd y for A boriginal h e rita g e ,” M r D je rrk u ra said.

“In m y view all inform ed A u stra lia n s sh o u ld b e a p p a lle d th e G o v ern m en t is even c o n sid e rin g s u c h a m ove,”

M r D je rrk u ra p ra is e d th e a p p ro a c h o f local go v ern m en t, w h ich a t its n a tio n a l a s s e m b ly la s t N ovem ber reco g n ised th e validity o f n a tiv e title. The A u s tra lia n Local G o v ern m en t A ssociation, w ith ATSIC, h a s b e e n h o ld in g in fo rm atio n s e m in a r s a n d w o rk sh o p s o n n a tiv e title a ro u n d A u stra lia .

“Local c o m m u n itie s w a n t a c c u ra te a n d d is p a s s io n a te in fo rm a tio n to a s s is t in th e ir u n d e rs ta n d in g of n ativ e title.

“T he c o m m u n ity is [saying th a t] a n e d u c a te d a n d inform ed re s p o n s e will be th e m o s t b en eficial o u tc o m e for all A u stra lia n s.

“T his is w h a t g o v e rn m e n ts s h o u ld b e striving for.

“T here h a s b een fa r too m u c h ta lk a b o u t a ra c e -b a se d election a n d n o t e n o u g h a b o u t h o w we c a n w o rk to g e th e r to m a k e n a tiv e title w ork.

“T h a t is th e clear m e ssa g e I w ish to leave yo u w ith to d a y ,”

Media contact, through the Office of Public Affairs

Brian Johnstone on 02.6289 3307 or 0417 212 926

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