Premier, ministers sign South West land use deal

08/06/2015 - 15:24

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The state government has signed six historic indigenous land use agreements covering 200,000 square kilometres of the South West of Western Australia.

Premier, ministers sign South West land use deal
Premier Colin Barnett.

The state government has signed six historic indigenous land use agreements covering 200,000 square kilometres of the South West of Western Australia.

The agreements, signed by Premier Colin Barnett and ministers Terry Redman, Bill Marmion, Albert Jacob, Mia Davies and Peter Collier, were authorised by a majority of the members of each of the principal Noongar native title claim groups at meetings in February and March.

Mr Barnett said the execution of the agreements was a significant step on the path towards the largest native title settlement in Australian history, resolving all native title claims in the South West in exchange for about $1.3 billion in land and other benefits.

Under the overall agreement, an independent Noongar Boodja Trust will be established into which assets will be transferred over 12 years.

It includes $50 million in funding per annum for 12 years, and up to 320,000 hectares of Crown land.

As part of the deal, state parliament will be asked to pass the Noongar Recognition Bill next year, which recognises the Noongar people as traditional owners of the South West and acknowledges their contribution to the heritage, cultural identity and economy of the state.

The agreements will now be filed with the National Native Title Tribunal, which will determine whether the agreements can be registered.

“The process of considering and accepting the state government’s offer has involved a great deal of work and involved many people who have had to carefully consider the offer before voting to accept it,” Mr Barnett said.

“The signing of these land use agreements today represents the next step in an extraordinary act of self-determination by Aboriginal people and provides them with a real opportunity for independence.

“It also means the state and Noongar people must work towards a new level of partnership and shared responsibilities,” he said.

The native title claims are Whadjuk (covering Perth metropolitan), the South West Boojarah (Busselton, Pemberton, Nannup) and Harris Family (Yallingup, Margaret River), Ballardong (York, Northam, Hyden, Kondinin), Wagyl Kaip (Katanning, Gnowangerup, Albany), Yued (Jurien, Moora, Lancelin, Gingin) and Gnaala Karla Boodja (Mandurah, Bunbury, Donnybrook).

Mr Barnett said while there were still legal procedures to be completed, he was optimistic they would be resolved and the full agreement could begin to be implemented by mid-2016.

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