Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Native title recognised for Wik people in Cape York

After 10 years of negotiation, the Wik Aboriginal people of western Cape York finally have native title recognised over the majority of their traditional lands, at Aurukun, the Federal Court has handed down two native title determinations covering more than 12,000 square kilometres of land.

The Wik and Wikway people's 1994 native title claim formed the basis for the High Court's historic Wik decision in 1996 that native title could co-exist with pastoral leases. Today at a specially convened meeting in Aurukun, Federal Court judge Richard Cooper handed down the first two native title determinations to cover pastoral leases In Queensland.

The determination was reached through negotiations with pastoralists, state and federal governments and other interest groups. Cape York pastoralists, say they are happy to have reached the agreement with the Wik people.

D'Arcy Byrnes from Holroyd Station says today's decision will not change the way he manages his business.

"Life won't change on our property, we'll just keep carrying on what we're doing," he said.

"If the traditional owners want to come in and go hunting or fishing they're welcome, so long as they don't go where we're working."

By Sorry 13 October 04


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