Inskip Point is included in a current Native Title claim application.
Inskip Point is included in a current Native Title claim application. Craig Warhurst

Council wades into title talks

THE Gympie Regional Council will write to the District Registrar of the Federal Court to request they become a party to a Native Title claim that covers some 6829 square kilometres including Rainbow Beach, Tin Can Bay, Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, Maryborough and the waters off these areas.

While the application does not provide scope for the council to contest it, they can become a party to the claim allowing involvement in future mediation.

The claim comes at a critical time for dugongs, environmentalist Colin Ridell said. He and conservationist Bob Irwin are calling for a moratorium on the hunting of the animal, whose diminishing habitat includes sea grass beds in the Butchulla Land and Sea Claim #2.

Under the Native Title Act, local indigenous people can, in the name of tradition and culture, kill dugongs and green sea turtles for ceremonial purposes.

However, Ridell told The Gympie Times yesterday the practice had become “open slather” under the protection of Native Title.

The original concept, Ridell said, allowed indigenous people to hunt only in their local area.

“Now, people can pull up anywhere and kill a turtle or dugong,” he said.

In 1996 a landmark High Court decision concerned with particular pastoral titles was passed regarding Native Title hunting rights.

The decision did not allow anyone simply to claim indigenous links and then hunt and kill native animals anywhere in Queensland.

It authorised any legitimate Native Title holder to hunt and kill for genuine sustenance and other needs and without first obtaining a licence, but only in areas over which Native Title was held by that group. The decision did not allow Native Title owners to trap or kill wildlife for commercial purposes, however Mr Ridell said that is what is occurring. Bob Irwin is calling for dugongs to be counted to allow for sustainable management practices to be put in place.

Gympie Times

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