Traditional Owners in Far North Queensland

Issue date: Sunday, 27 October 2019

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As part of a Federal Parliament inquiry into economic engagement with Traditional Owners, Members of Parliament are travelling to Cairns, Hope Vale and the Torres Strait.

The Northern Australia Committee is holding public hearings in Far North Queensland this week, and will hear evidence from Land Councils, Native Title holders, local councils and other stakeholders.

In its submission, the Cape York Land Council highlighted the importance of land to the economic and cultural wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and the economic development of Northern Australia. It noted that ‘the economic development potential of Aboriginal freehold land is yet to be fully realised because of significant constraints on utilising the rights inherent in this tenure’. It also emphasised that the ‘reform strategy to enhance the use of Aboriginal freehold land must maintain the communal and inalienable character of Aboriginal land ownership’.

Meanwhile, the Gur A Baradharaw Kod (GBK) Sea and Land Council, representing Traditional owners in the Torres Strait, urged the transfer of funding and administrative responsibility to Traditional Owners. It believed that ‘many, if not all government functions in the Torres Strait should be transferred to the Traditional Owner bodies’, including Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate, Land Trusts and GBK itself.

Committee Chair Warren Entsch says it is important to engage Traditional Owners in the economic development of Northern Australia. ‘The key is finding ways to use land rights and native title to create economic opportunities which benefit everyone, generating wealth without undermining land rights or native title.’

‘The evidence presented to the Committee has already suggested some useful ideas and we expect to get more as we travel to meet with Traditional Owners,’ he said.

The Committee will hold public hearings in Cairns, Hope Vale and on Thursday Island. Programs are available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Time: 9:00am to 4:30pm
Location: Council Chambers, 119-145 Spence St, Cairns

Witnesses include:
Cairns Institute
Cape York Land Council
Cape York Partnership
Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation MYAC RNTBC
Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji People PBC Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
North Queensland Land Council
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council
Torres Cape Indigenous Council Alliance
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
Olkola Aboriginal Corporation

Date: Wednesday, 30 October 2019
Time: 10:00am to 12:30pm
Location: Council Meeting Rooms, Hope Vale

Witnesses include:
Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council
Walmbaar Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
Dhubbi Warra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
Hopevale Congress Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
Ms Dora Gibson

Date: Thursday, 31 October 2019
Time: 9:30am to 12:00pm
Location: Function Room, Grand Hotel, Victoria Parade, Thursday Island

Witnesses include:
Torres Shire Council
Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council
Gur A Baradharaw Kod (GBK) Sea and Land Council
Ugar Ged Kem Le Zeuber Er Kep Le (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation RNTBC
Kaurareg Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (RNTBC)

The hearings will be broadcast live at

Further details of the inquiry, including expanded terms of reference, can be found on the Committee’s website.

Media inquiries
Hon Warren Entsch MP, Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia
02 6277 4803

For background information
Committee Secretariat
02 6277 4162

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