Goss tries divide and rule on land rights
By Susan Price
BRISBANE — Aboriginal activists set up a tent embassy in Queen's Park on May 15 to launch a campaign over the Goss Labor government's plan to push through inadequate land rights legislation with little consultation of Aboriginal groups.
The legislation, so far kept under wraps, denies urban Aborigines (82% of the Aboriginal population) the right to land. The Queensland Federation of Land Councils is demanding consultation, establishment of a land acquisition program and funds, the right to claim non-private land in towns and cities, Aboriginal control over access to Aboriginal land, veto over mining operations and protection of cultural heritage and sacred sites.
The government has sought to create divisions among Aboriginal groups. On a secret trip to Cape York, Goss himself attempted to secure the agreement of the Cape York Land Council in private "consultation sessions". Cape York Aborigines were funded to travel around the state trying to convince other land councils to go along with the government.
The drafting of the legislation has been taken out of the hands of minister for Aboriginal and Islander affairs Anne Warner and handled by the Premier's Department.