Aboriginal Land Rights Safe for Now
6 November 2014 at 8:49 am
An Aboriginal land rights advocacy group has welcomed the New South Wales Government’s decision to drop a plan that could have retrospectively extinguished almost 2000 Aboriginal land claims, some dating back as far as two decades.
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council said the Baird Government had withdrawn its controversial Crown Lands Amendment Bill.
“Moving forward we’re happy to talk to the Government, but this Bill was divisive and discriminatory and undermined Land Rights” NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chairman Craig Cromelin said.
“We call on the Government to respectfully deal with Land Rights and start from scratch by genuinely consulting with Aboriginal people before any changes are made to the way Crown Lands in NSW are managed.”
The Bill had been introduced partly to protect beaches from Aboriginal land rights claims after a successful claim in Coffs Harbour.
Land Minister Kevin Humphries previously told media that the Bill was not intended to remove land from Aboriginal people.
“This action is not directed against the right to make Aboriginal land claims but defends the general principle, widely supported by the community, that our beaches should not be privately owned by anyone,” Humphries said.
“At least 600km of the 2300km of NSW coastline is currently subject to Aboriginal land claims that are yet to be determined.”
Cromelin said a community rally held to fight the Bill had helped lead to its withdrawal.
“It means a lot to us to see such a great turnout from mob at such short notice, especially as many people travelled great distances, as well as those who sent letters, emails and tweets to protest against the Bill” he said.
“The rally shows the power of mob uniting for Our Land Council, Our Mob and Our Future.”