Glen Kelly - Photo, www.au.news.yahoo.com

Glen Kelly – Photo, www.au.news.yahoo.com

The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) has hit back at critics of the Western Australian Government’s offer of a $1.3 billion Native Title package to Noongars. SWALSC CEO Glen Kelly said that ultimately “…the Noongar community will decide whether to accept or reject the Native Title settlement package negotiated with the WA Government.”

Mr Kelly said the negotiations between SWALSC and the State Government have taken three years.

“SWALSC’s consultations with the Noongar community have been extensive with more than 300 meetings being held over the past few years.”

“The package will not resolve the injustices of the past, nor does it pay for the land – no amount could do that. What the package does provide is a platform to build a better future.”

He said there are only two choices, accept the package or return to litigation.

He criticised the critics of the package. “It’s common for non-practitioners of Native Title to have unrealistic expectations and to presume that a positive outcome from the Federal Court is virtually automatic. This is not so.”

Mr Kelly said the Native Title regime has been watered down, damaged by the John Howard years, and that “…the worst part (of the regime) is extinguishment” where the Native Title rights “of Traditional Owners “…are erased forever, irrespective of how strong the connection to Country might be.”

He said that “…the prospect of a compensation claim” has only effect for “…extinguishment which occurred after 1975 when the Racial Discrimination Act came into force is compensable.”

He said the important question should be “…what will it take to build a strong Noongar future?”

“First and foremost, Noongar people deserve to be recognised as Traditional Owners of the land. This is secured by a historic Act of Parliament.”

“The second thing that is needed is access to Country for cultural and customary purposes, secured on Crown lands under the land access provisions of the settlement.”

“Thirdly, there needs to be major investment in Noongar culture, custom and connection to Country, and Elders need to be restored to their rightful place.”

“Next, a Noongar land estate needs to be established along with a joint management process that under settlement would allow Traditional Owners a say on Crown lands outside the Noongar land estate.”

Mr Kelly said sustainable income sources need to be generated independent of Government.

He said that if the package is knocked back by Noongars then up to two decades of litigation may result, and with no promise of positive outcomes.

“The package provides a nation-building opportunity while delivering an unparalleled opportunity for genuine Noongar self-determination,” said Mr Kelly.

“Haven’t the Noongar people waited long enough?”

 

Read more:

Land deal fails important tests

15th July 2013 by Len Collard and Gerry Georgatos

Simplistic offer to Noongars cannot extinguish Native Title nor solve years of neglect

12th July 2013 by The Stringer

$1.3 billion Native Title deal divides Noongar peoples

6th July 2013 by Gerry Georgatos