News

Police praised on bail compromise in native title row

Wit Booka, also known as Gary Tomlinson.
Wit Booka, also known as Gary Tomlinson. Craig Warhurst

A MAN facing a week in jail after refusing to recognise Queensland law, emerged smiling from Gympie Watchhouse yesterday afternoon.

Gary Tomlinson had appeared in court under his tribal name Wit Boooka.

After a weekend in custody charged with trespass, he told the court he maintained a refusal to provide fingerprints and DNA.

Yesterday, his supporters praised Gympie police for helping reach a compromise in what may be Australia's newest Aboriginal land rights battleground.

Gympie police yesterday found the common ground in what had seemed an intractable dispute between the law and Aboriginal sovereignty advocate Wit Boooka.

Boooka agreed to meet a bail condition that he provide identification details, including fingerprints and DNA, after two important concessions from Gympie Magistrates Court and police.

Magistrate M Baldwin told Boooka he would face a week in jail if he did not sign bail documents.

She said she would allow him to sign his tribal name "if that's an issue".

But she said he would still be required to provide police with identification details, including fingerprints and DNA.

New Gympie police Inspector Stephen Donnelly and police station officer in charge Gregg Davey helped negotiate a compromise which allowed Boooka to note on the documents that his agreement to the conditions did not imply any concession that Queensland law had any legitimate power over him.

A clearly relieved Mr Boooka emerged from the Watchhouse about 4pm, free to return to his Southside home and family.

And in a rare display of goodwill, his supporters praised the intelligent and decent approach of Gympie police.

Mr Boooka found himself allegedly on the wrong side of the law after he and supporters "reclaimed" the Belli Park Mimburi site, which had been used for Aboriginal gatherings after being bought by the state government for the proposed Traveston Crossing dam.

Since that plan was knocked out by then federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, the land was leased to a grazier.

Mr Boooka's supporters claimed cattle on the property were destroying its value as a sacred site.

The Southside family man found himself under arrest on Friday for trespass.

When he refused to supply fingerprints and DNA, he found himself also charged with obstructing police.

His bail, granted at a special court sitting on Saturday, was conditional on his providing the ID material.

After a weekend in custody, he yesterday continued to maintain his refusal.

Mrs Baldwin told him: "There are many people who come within the system who may not be found guilty.

"You can protest all you like, but nobody else will be kept in custody except you.

"I don't want you to be in jail for seven days," she said, remanding him to next Monday. "I don't make the law, I just process it," she said.

"I'm happy for him to sign with the name Boooka, if that's an issue."

"I'm just here to protect our sites," Mr Boooka said on his release.

"We've been getting everything destroyed for so long. Seems like the government doesn't care about our culture.

"So I decided to take a stand against them.

"And I hope more people join," he said. But an afternoon of negotiation with police saw an agreement which allowed both sides to achieve what they wanted.

Gympie Times

Topics:  aboriginal, indigeneous, native title




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'All I heard when my baby cried was ‘you’re a terrible mum'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images of Katie Dykes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

KATIE'S battle with PND is not unlike many mothers.

'I just thought all mums got no sleep'

MELTOPIA battled PND with all four of her children.

4 survival tips for mummas heading back to work

The few reminders every working mum needs to read.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Turnbull, Shorten in dead heat on election eve: polling

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll figures suggest Labor could win on Saturday

Hey Mumma: Support networks vital for Gympie working mums

We have a family business with three kids. We try and have either my husband or I finish at three to do after school activities with the kids.   Anna Reid

Let's avoid judging stay at home mums and working mums

OPINION: Who are these people? Senate parties explained

Thirty-eight parties are vying for your Senate vote. Be wise about where your preferences are going.

What you need to know about the Senate parties you've never heard of

Latest deals and offers

Hey Mumma

Mums talk to us about how they juggle work and kids.

Clive Palmer to re-open refinery

Clive Palmer on ABC radio.

Clive Palmer talks about his achievements, election chances and re-opening the...

Concern over Smerdon Rd high-density development

Mick Curran talks about the community's concern over the project which was approved...

Burnett Heads housing development approved

COUNCIL APPROVED: A Burnett Heads housing development has been approved by Bundaberg Regional Council. Photo Contributed

Councillors approved the development seven votes to four

Three bedroom, 1100sqm block: Is this Qld's cheapest home?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward