KLC Media Release – March 9, 2011
Traditional Owners oppose perpetual leases for pastoral stations
The KLC is concerned by the State Government’s plans to introduce legislation for perpetual leases on pastoral stations.
KLC Acting CEO Nolan Hunter said Kimberley Traditional Owners would oppose any move by the State Government to introduce perpetual leases as it would put native title rights at risk.
“This has the potential for mass extinguishment of native title. The State Government is robbing Traditional Owners of their land rights,’’ he said.
“The State Government is reverting to the heavy-handed days of the Court Government – in its colonial approach to native title, unwillingness to negotiate with Aboriginal people, and refusal to acknowledge our rights to country.
“This latest display by the State Government shows its contempt for native title values, and once again highlights its willingness to appease other groups such as miners and pastoralists, while actively diminishing the rights of Aboriginal people.
“The State Government must recognise its responsibility to ensure everyone is treated equally and fairly. The proposal for perpetual leases on pastoral leases is trampling on the ability of Aboriginal people to access and use their traditional lands in accordance with their rights under the law.
“If this new legislation is passed, it will invite a return to the old days, when hostility was high and pastoralists locked Aboriginal people out of their traditional lands. We have worked hard to build new positive relationships, and we won’t stand by as the State Government destroys them.
“Any move to use native title as a bargaining chip to strip Aboriginal people of their rights will not be tolerated. Linking native title determinations to land tenure reform, access and agreements is not a requirement of the Native Title Act. It is trying to rewrite people’s native title rights in a way that is not consistent with the Native Title Act.
“This battle has been fought – and lost – in the past, when the Court Government challenged the validity of the Native Title Act in WA.
“We will not stand by and watch as the State Government attempts to take away the hard-won rights of Aboriginal people before we even have a chance to enjoy them.
“I urge the State Government to work with Aboriginal people to settle native title issues – so it is not a lost opportunity, but a benefit to us all.’’