Labor’s Lot 490 proposal shows outrageous disregard for Aboriginal land claim

The Labor Party has undermined Aboriginal Land Rights in the Tweed by introducing legislation that would affect a land claim, says North Coast Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands, Jan Barham MLC.

Ms Barham’s comments follow the introduction into NSW Parliament by Labor’s Walt Secord MLC of a Bill that would reserve Lot 490 as a regional park.

“This significant and environmentally sensitive area is currently protected from development by Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council’s land claim, which is one of thousands across the state waiting to be finalised. The legislation introduced by NSW Labor shows no regard for the importance of that claim,” Ms Barham said.

“Any announcement on the end use of the land is premature, and it undermines the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to provide self-determination and compensation for the traditional owners and custodians of the land.

“A recent public land forum I hosted in the Tweed heard from Tweed Byron Land Council’s Leweena Williams and local conservationists about the ecological significance of Lot 490.

“It’s important to note that Aboriginal land claims can include conditions such as easements for public access to areas such as the beach. Once a land claim is granted, the Government can also negotiate for the reservation or dedication of lands for the purpose of nature conservation.

“Labor has disregarded the fundamental importance of Aboriginal land rights and the need for self-determination and negotiation with the Aboriginal community. This Bill mustn’t proceed until the land claim has been determined, and I call on the Government to ensure the claim is resolved as quickly as possible.

“I have continued to press the Government to clear the backlog of unresolved Aboriginal land claims. The Greens strongly support Aboriginal land rights and the need to prioritise Aboriginal communities’ ownership and custodianship of land.”

Ms Barham noted that Lot 490 had a long history of being earmarked for development by both local and state governments and called for the importance of both the Aboriginal land claim and the environmental and cultural values of the site to be respected.

“The Greens recognise the strong community support for ensuring the land is protected from inappropriate private development and we know how important it is that the area’s threatened species and biodiversity are protected.

“It was Labor’s Tony Kelly who removed Tweed Shire Council as trustees of the Crown reserve in 2004 and then proposed leasing the site for a major development by Leighton Holdings, which thankfully fell through.

“For Labor to claim that they are the environmental protectors of the Tweed defies belief, and for them to undermine Aboriginal land rights in the process is disgraceful,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891