Native title win in WA


By Rupen Savoulian

PERTH — A 10,000-square kilometre native title claim covering the Perth metropolitan area has successfully passed the federal government's stringent registration test. A number of native title claimants united their efforts to meet a range of conditions, in particular to prove traditional association with the claimed land.

Aboriginal claimants now have the right to negotiate over the development of crown land west of Toodyay on the outskirts of Perth up to the ocean. This area includes Rottnest Island and a portion of Perth waters. All residential, commercial and other exclusive possession leases are excluded from the native title claim.

The native title tribunal said the claimants can negotiate over developments in government reserves, foreshore land, and mining and exploration endeavours. However, the claimants do not have the right to veto any such development.

The Aboriginal Legal Service's executive officer of land and heritage, Glenn Shaw, said the state government, normally hostile to any native title claim, will find it difficult to argue that native title is extinguished throughout the entire south-west when a claim in the Perth metropolitan area has successfully passed the test. The claimants have said they are not interested in "people's backyards" or stopping development altogether, but simply want to have a say in developments so as to protect their heritage.