It’s been called a “rare” win by the Cape York Land Council but a welcome one as well.
Traditional Owners in Queensland’s top end have won their case against the Queensland government and Gamboola Resources PTY LTD, a gold mining company who sought an expedited exploration lease on traditional lands.
“The Cape York Land Council had vigorously pursued the case for the Traditional Owners, and the decision demonstrates the effectiveness of a registered organisation representing the rights of its clients before authorities,” Cape York Land Council said in a statement.
In June 2016, the Queensland government had given Gamboola expedited procedure allowance, which is a “fast-tracking process for the grant of some tenements that are seen to have minimal impact on Native Title” and “the right to negotiate will not apply.”
Essentially bypassing the negotiations with Traditional Owners.
"The National Native Title Tribunal decision is a wake-up call to sneaky dealmakers and cowboy developers", Executive Director of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, Gerhardt Pearson said.
National Native Title Tribunal of Australia (NNTTA) found evidence that despite what the Queensland Government regulatory regime and Gamboola’s stated intentions were, there was evidence, would “interfere with sites of particular significance to the native title party”.
The Tribunal also found it was likely there would be a “major disturbance” to the land and waters.
In the proposed site, there is ‘mound spring area’ is associated with an important Dreamtime story and a number of matchwood burial sites.
One of the laws for the local Aboriginal people is no one, not even themselves, are allowed to disturb the ground.
The Tribunal noted the gold mining company, Gamboola, would likely drill into an area which overlaps with the mound springs.
“Important cultural places on Olkola land are special, and unique sites are worthy of protection from a resources sector hell-bent on using the Native Title Act as a bulldozer to bury the rights of Traditional Owners.
“In this case, the Tribunal stood up for Olkola. The State needs to pay very special attention to this decision if it seeks in the future to work around the Indigenous people of Cape York,” Mr Pearson said.