Langdon: 'Bligh's callous land grab'

On Friday last week, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh effectively announced the gazettal of 13 rivers in Cape York Peninsula under the Wild Rivers Act, restricting the opportunity for local Aborigines to develop river areas for purposes such as farming and tourism, although claiming publicly that only three had been gazetted.

As 13 rivers are involved, the native owners of these areas and the public are liable to be misled by the Premier's press release: "Ms Bligh said the three rivers in Cape York Peninsula had been gazetted following approval by the Governor, Penelope Wesley ... the Archer, Lockhart and Stewart rivers have now been declared as wild river areas."

What appears to be an act in keeping with government commitments to river conservation in fact affects Aboriginal assets extending to 13 rivers in the basins and catchments of the three named rivers, and includes "high preservation zones".

The wild rivers declarations cover 19,000sqkm, mainly indigenous freehold land. In other words, vast areas of land that were not part of the original proposal for these rivers have been added. This sudden announcement was a shock to the Aboriginal owners of these areas.

It is clear that the majority of the submissions from the Aboriginal traditional owners have been ignored and treated with contempt. They were advised by the relevant minister to write to the Wilderness Society for an extension of time to resolve their problems. The Wilderness Society declined.
Read More: The complete article - The Australian
By: Marcia Langton | April 11th 2009

Indigenous landholders threaten legal action over wild rivers
Indigenous landholders on Cape York Peninsula are threatening to take the Queensland Government to court over new environment protection laws covering three northern river basins.

Wild Rivers declarations have been made over 19,000 square kilometres of the Archer, Lockhart and Stewart River basins. The declarations mainly cover indigenous freehold land. Cape York Land Council member Donnie De Busch says they stop traditional owners from developing their land.

"This is all about economic apartheid created by Anna Bligh, and condoned by those people that write those submissions to a government that bypasses the Aboriginal people as sovereign legal custodians of our land."

The Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Stephen Robertson, says the legislation doesn't stop development.
Source: ABC News - April 9th 2009

More on topic: Indigenous groups attack Cape wild rivers ruling
By Siobhan Barry - ABC News | April 6th 2009