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Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority called to account.

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Media Release

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)


6 August 1999


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority called to account


Today's Federal Court decision on the Great Barrier Roof Marine Park Authority's failure to comply with the processes of the Native Title Act calls into question the Authority's continued ability to manage the resources of the reef, according to ATSIC Commissioner Terry O'Shane.


"It appears that GBRMPA has also totally failed to comply with its own charter under its own legislation to consider the cultural and traditional interests of Aboriginal people," said Mr O'Shane, who is also spokesman for the Gurubana Gunggandji people of Yarrabah near Cairns.


"The decision comes as a prelude to further action by traditional owners against GBRMPA."


The Federal Court today in Brisbane ordered that the Authority failed to comply with the requirements under the Native Title Act on the issue of Notices of Intention to grant permits for fishing, tourism and other activities on the Great Barrier Reef.


"The Gurubana, Gunggandji people brought the case against GBRMPA after their persistent requests for further information about the licenses were ignored by GBRMPA in a cynical attempt to disregard the interests of Aboriginal groups claiming traditional ownership of the Great Barrier Reef," Mr O'Shane said.


"This decision sends a clear message. Departments or authorities with the responsibility to issue permits must not fail to take into account the common law, the native title interests of indigenous people or fail to observe their own rules in issuing those permits.


"If they do, Aboriginal people will take legal action to ensure our common law rights are protected.


"Aboriginal people welcome this Federal, Court decision in the sense that our common law rights will be recognised and respected under the Australian justice system."



Further comment:

Terry O'Shane on 0417 764 992



md 1999-08-10  14:45