Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, announced on 9 May 2014 further amendments to the Land Act 1994 to make way for the wholesale privatisation of communal land held by Aboriginal Trustees in remote communities like Yarrabah and Cape York. Formerly leasehold land will be converted to freehold land.
Previously, Cripps stated in February 2014 his plan to introduce rolling leases that make pastoral land freehold and diminishes native title even further. :
This year, we will deliver reforms to the Land Act, resulting from the recommendations that came from the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee into the future relevance of state owned land in Queensland. We are going to be delivering land reform that will further send correct signals, positive signals to the rural sector about their opportunities to invest in agricultural industries in Queensland.
Property developers, tourism entrepreneurs and the banks must be rubbing their hands together with glee with prospect of getting hold of prime Deed of Grant in Trust DOGIT land.
There is 80% unemployment in these communities and with the possibility of banks, developers and pastoralists controlling the land and having a readily available aboriginal workforce to do their bidding in mining and tourism industries.
Here is one excerpt from the proposed legislation:
“The bill amends the Native Title (Queensland) Act 1993, together with supporting amendments to the Acquisition of Land Act 1967, by providing another way in which non-native title rights and interests can be acquired where native title rights and interests are being compulsorily acquired, to assist in meeting requirements under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993.”
This is a long held scheme of Noel Pearson [the Cape York Institute] to convert land from collective ownership under DOGIT leases to private freehold title. Cripps referred to this in his speech to the parliament as long ago as 13 May 2008.
I have spoken before in this place about the report released in May 2007 by the Cape York Institute titled “From hand out to hand up”. That report proposed a series of welfare reforms for Indigenous communities which were subsequent ly implemented through the passage of the Family Responsibilities Commission Bill in March last year. During the debate on that bill I mentioned that I attended a conference organised by the Cape York Institute where this proposal was discussed.
How can communities that have 80% unemployment possibly buy land and hold it for any length of time before the banks and land sharks move in?
W Sanders’ paper Housing Tenure and Indigenous –Australians in Remote and Settled Areas looks at ideas about promoting home ownership in remote Aboriginal communities. It argues that this is a largely unrealistic policy goal, given the underlying income and employment status of Indigenous people in these communities. [Interview W Sanders from ANU?]
9 May 2014