Gladstone council signs historic Aboriginal land use deal

Published by Tegan Annett in The Gladstone Observer, on 29 November 2016. 

A LANDMARK agreement will be made today as the Gladstone Regional Council enters its first land use agreement for indigenous land.

The Gladstone, Bundaberg and North Burnett regional councils will enter into the agreement with the Port Curtis Coral Coast people.

Gladstone region mayor Matt Burnett said it would be the first indigenous land use agreement entered into by the council, setting out how the parties would work together for the benefit of the whole local community.

"The main aspect of the agreement is mutual respect and recognition," Cr Burnett said.

"In signing the agreement we are all committing to work together, recognise each other's rights and interests and help each other meet our respective responsibilities.

"It's a milestone for our region and we are very pleased to host our neighbouring councils and representatives of the Port Curtis Coral Coast Peoples and Gidarjil at this ceremony."

Cr Burnett said the Port Curtis Coral Coast People and Local Government Indigenous Land Use Agreement would also "map out a process for resolving issues of native title on land that is required for public use by local governments".

He said the assessment of the Port Curtis Coral Coast People's native title claim by the National Native Title Tribunal was a long process that was not decided by local government.

"Local governments are entering into these agreements under existing legislation, in good faith and in recognition of traditional owners, to ensure the use of land subject to native title assessment is done in close consultation with the claimants," he said.

"This agreement sets out how we will work together while the claim for native title is being assessed by the federal courts and after the assessment confirms their native title rights.

"Included in the agreement are processes to advance matters of mutual interest so together we can better care for country; protect the interests of traditional owners; look after the needs of all local people; and support each other for the benefit of the whole community."

Cr Burnett said funding for the negotiations of the agreement predominantly came from the Federal Government.

The agreement, between Gladstone, Bundaberg and North Burnett regional councils, representatives of the Port Curtis Coral Coast Peoples and Gidarjil Cultural Heritage Corporation, will be signed at a public ceremony at the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre today at 11am.