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Calls for sensible approach to native title

While there has been great success in native title in Western Australia, the government still has a “conceptual problem” with native title over areas such as cities or mining areas, South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council CEO Glen Kelly said today.

Mr Kelly was speaking in response to a speech by Deputy Premier, the Hon. Eric Ripper MLA the Native Title Conference today in Perth.

“There has been a lot of success in native title in WA and a fundamental shift in how government deals with native title,” Mr Kelly said.

“But there is still a conceptual problem in dealing with native title in more built up environments with higher populations or areas that are mineral rich and with high value resources,” he said.
Mr Kelly called for mediation as the next step for the current single Noongar claim over Perth.

“Let’s go to mediation next so we can examine the most sensible way of going forward alongside the six underlying [native title] claims,” Mr Kelly said.

“We need a reasonable, rational approach. We are not going to throw away 60,000 years of lore and culture because someone else thinks it’s a good idea. That search for justice will never end because the shadow in our hearts pushes us on.”

Noting that by the end of June, 23 native title determinations would see Aboriginal people hold title to one third of the State, Mr Ripper said the Government’s preference was to resolve claims be agreement, wherever possible, and that negotiations with SWALSC in relation to the six underlying claims since 2007.

The Government’s future policy challenge concerned the treatment of native title holders in the post-determination environment, he said.

“It is the responsibility of government to ensure that native title provides ongoing benefits,” he said.

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