Queensland native title law passed

Issue 

Queensland native title law passed

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — The state Labor government's native title legislation was passed by the Queensland parliament on November 11, granting most of the mining and pastoral industries' demands. The law complements the Howard government's Native Title Amendment Act, which seeks to extinguish native title in reality.

"The rights of native title claimants have been cut back considerably from what they were under the original Native Title Act sponsored by the Keating government", according to commentator David Solomon, writing in the November 12 Brisbane Courier-Mail. "If Prime Minister John Howard managed to get about eight-and-a-half of his 10-point plan through [federal] parliament, Queensland has now wound back another point."

The Queensland legislation allows Aboriginal communities a limited right to negotiate over mining on pastoral leases. However, the right to negotiate over exploration for new mining projects is eliminated.

Terry O'Shane, chairperson of the Queensland Indigenous Working Group, pointed out in the same issue of the Courier-Mail, "[Labor Premier Peter] Beattie's scheme ignores the frequency and the often high impact of mineral exploration, which can cause serious and permanent damage over large areas through the construction of grid lines and taking of bulk samples. In these cases, there is no assurance the reasonable concerns of native titleholders will be accommodated."

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