Australian state gov't returns land to indigenous owners
Tuesday, October 05, 2021 9:32 PM

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CANBERRA, Oct. 6, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Australia's state of Queensland on Wednesday announced to return thousands of hectares of national park on Cape York Peninsula to its indigenous owners.

Premier Anna Bligh on Wednesday told parliament more than 75, 000 hectares of national park, known as Archer Bend, would be revoked and returned to the Indigenous Wik Mungkan people.

The move came more than 30 years after it was taken from traditional owners by the National Party government of the day.

In 1977, the former Bjelke-Petersen government declared land outside Coen as national park, despite attempts by the Wik Mungkan people to buy it.

"This decision puts an end to a shameful chapter in Queensland' s indigenous history," Bligh told The Australian newspaper.

"It changes the outcome of a long legal battle which saw the legitimate legal rights of indigenous people of Cape York circumvented ..."

Queensland Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said the decision returns parts of the national park as freehold land, allowing traditional owners to manage cultural and natural values, and establish businesses.

"We are now in a new era where traditional owners, government departments and conservation groups, now work together to ensure traditional lands are protected for the future," she said.

Meanwhile, the Wilderness Society welcomed the decision.

"We offer our congratulations to the Ayapathu, Kaanju, Wik Mungkan traditional owners who negotiated with the government to achieve this historic land rights outcome," the society's national campaigner Anthony Esposito told The Australian newspaper on Wednesday.



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