PERTH, November 24, 2006: The West Australian government says today’s granting of native title by the Federal Court over a large part of the East Kimberley region marks the start of Australia’s “largest and most comprehensive land use agreement”.
The Miriuwung Gajerrong Number 4 Native Title claim encompasses 6,758 square kilometres of land around Kununurra and Wyndham, on the border with the Northern Territory.
Speaking at the on-country determination in Kununurra, WA Deputy Premier Eric Ripper said the ruling ended half a decade of negotiations with the native title holders which has resulted in the Ord Final Agreement on land use.
“We have negotiated Australia’s largest and most comprehensive land use agreement, the Ord Final Agreement.
“In doing so, we have developed a partnership with the Miriuwung Gajerrong people that paves the way for agricultural, industrial and residential development opportunities that will benefit the whole East Kimberley community.”
As part of the Ord Final Agreement, the state government will jointly manage a 127,000 hectare reserve of land at the southern end of Lake Argyle.
“This agreement recognises the important role that traditional custodians have to play in the protection and management of the State’s waters and wetlands,” Mr Ripper said.
“The Kimberley is a unique landscape and home to an amazing diversity of people and wildlife.
“It supports an impressive range of activities, including recreation, tourism, industry, pastoral and grazing, agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture.
“It is important that we all work together to change our water management practices to ensure that only appropriate activities are undertaken in water catchment and wetland areas.”
The Miriuwung Gajerrong No.4 Native Title claim, which was lodged with the court in 2004, means that Native Title is now recognised in more than 35 per cent of the Kimberleys. – AAP
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