Airport lands Native Title first

A NATIVE Title claim against the Perth International Airport was quashed last week in what lawyers described as the first of its kind in Australia.

Westralia Airports Corporation, the Federal Government and the State Government were all required to answer a claim for Native Title over 1.82 square kilometres of Airport land by the Bodney and Bropho families and others.

Lawyers involved said it is the first time a judgement on freehold Crown land has been made.

After more than four years in the courts, Federal Court Justice John Lehane found that Native Title had been extinguished because the land was freehold.

Dwyer Durack solicitor Caroline Tan, who represented the Bropho family and others, said the judgement showed freehold vested to the Crown is treated in the same way as other private freehold.

“The effect is that freehold extinguishes Native Title and Crown freehold extinguishes native title as well,” Ms Tan said.

“Previously there was arguments that maybe freehold land that was still vested in the Government might be treated differently then private freehold.”

Most of the subject land was set aside as a reserve in 1877. It was vested in the Guildford Road Board for the purpose of “commonage”. Parts of the land were set aside for the purpose of a “quarry for public purposes”.

Ms Tan said the applicants had 21 days to decide whether an appeal would be lodged.

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