Native Title decision welcomed

A FARMING group and the Western Australian Government have welcomed a Federal Court verdict that Native Title existed in parts of the West Pilbara.

The Pastoralists and Graziers Assoc-iation of WA was among the first to welcome the decision handed down by Justice Robert Nicholson.

The PGA’s Native Title committee chairman John Clapin said the decision was a reflection that Native Title Claims had to be addressed sensibly.

He said the decision set important precedents in terms of mining, pastoral and water security issues that had been previously clouded by Native Title.

"It also confirms a new direction in Native Title negotiations in favour of serious negotiations on access issues," Mr Clapin said.

WA Deputy Premier Eric Ripper, who also welcomed the decision, said it was important recognition of the trad-itional ownership of the area by the Ngaluma and Injibandi people.

He said Western Australians had noth-ing to fear from the finding, which did not prevent development for the benefit of all citizens, including the traditional owners.

Mr Ripper said the agreement allowed development of the Burrup and Mait-land industrial estates and residential and light industrial land in and around Karratha.

Under Commonwealth law the WA Government had to negotiate with the three groups with claims in the area.

All three groups were registered by the National Native Title Tribunal, meaning they had legal rights to negotiate about development.

This is the ninth finding of Native Title in WA. Six decisions have been reached through agreement and three – includ-ing this one – after a Federal Court trial.

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