title deal after 11 years, by Andrew Clennell - 3rd
The Sydney Morning Herald)
Two native title deals - including
the biggest ever settled in NSW - are to be announced
by the State Government before the election in
Government confirmed yesterday that it would approve
the biggest native title claim, with the Githabul
people in an area north of Tenterfield, next month.
It is also about to settle a claim with the Arakwal
people, near Byron Bay.
native title claimants gave up the fight for freehold
title to make the deals possible.
Premier, Morris Iemma, is expected to attend a
ceremony at Toonumbar dam in the state's north-east
on February 28 to settle the Githabul people's
the claim will give the local Aboriginal corporation
about 120 hectares of land, allow Aborigines to
hunt for turtles and give them a say over the
handling of national parks and state forests.
It should also provide job opportunities for Aboriginal
people with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
deal is largely restricted to 70,000 hectares
of national park and state forest land and will
not affect farmland.
director-general of the NSW Department of Lands,
Warwick Watkins, said yesterday a final settlement
was also expected before March with the Arakwal
people. In 2001, the Government announced that
it would negotiate with them about how the national
park there would be used, but there has been a
further claim, which is about to be settled.
Close, the native title claimant for the Githabul
land, which extends from Tenterfield to Kyogle,
said Aboriginal people got "very little"
out of the deal other than the right to hunt turtles
and a say in how the national parks were run.
he was happy to see it resolved after 11 years
lot of people think it's a great deal," he
said, "but they don't actually see how much
the Githabul gave up - we moved a hell of a lot
to get this deal."
Watkins agreed the deal was largely symbolic,
but said it was important spiritually to Aboriginal
people and similar to a native title agreement
reached over Crown land covering Perth several
National Party leader, Andrew Stoner, said that
the native title agreement was an "obvious
vote-buying exercise in the lead-up to the March
said greater involvement of Aboriginal people
in the management of the areas was "likely
to result in a more commonsense approach than
the extreme green approach taken by the NSW Labor