Monday 21 June 2010

Call for a High Court challenge against Wild Rivers legislation

The call by traditional owners in Cape York in far north Queensland that taxpayers should be funding a High Court challenge against the State Government's Wild Rivers legislation has been supported by LNP candidate for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch.

Native Title holders want the legislation overturned and have lodged a writ in the High Court of Australia claiming it is invalid and racially discriminating.

Mr Entsch said he had been campaigning in support of the Traditional Owners since the Wild Rivers legislation was first declared.

"I am disgusted at the way indigenous communities and other Cape York residents, attempting to develop social and economic futures for themselves, had been effectively sidelined by a centralist and paternalistic Labor state government who have allowed policy to be developed by the Wilderness Society, a southern-based extremist group masquerading as an environmental organisation," Warren Entsch said today.

Entsch says he's appalled at the way many communities had their pleas for effective consultation ignored by a Labor Government that had secretively “done a deal with the devil.”

“I have given a commitment to the people of Cape York that I will fight this draconian legislation. By his silence, the current Federal member [Jim Turnour] had been complicit in the deal that has seen so many people in so many communities have their potential for economic and social opportunity ripped from them," Warren Entsch says.

“We in the LNP have been supportive of the traditional owners to the extent that we’ve had Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, to the far North on three separate occasions this year to support the case they’re mounting."

Entsch says Abbott has done his part by tabling a Private Members Bill to overturn the legislation.

“We’re awaiting the outcome of a Senate Committee’s investigation into the matter, however we’re not at all confident given that it’s a Labor Party dominated committee,” Entsch says. “We’re concerned that the inquiry has been deliberately manipulated to ensure the outcome is favourable to the extreme green complexion so desired by Labor in the lead up to the Federal Election.

“In fact I’d go so far as to say that the entire process has been orchestrated in cahoots with the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation,” Warren Entsch says.

There were 33 written submissions presented. 26, or around or 80%, were directly favourable to Abbott’s Private Members Bill or otherwise advocated strengthening of Native Title and indigenous land rights.

Entsch says that the legal case was an important constitutional matter and needed to be properly dealt with.

"Given this, the Federal Government in particular, should be funding this as an important test case."


Bryan Law said...

hopefully the High Court challenge to the Wild Rivers Act will shed more light on the nature of native title, and the limits of government in further dispossessing Aborigines of freehold title.

MaryO said...

The recent article by Jessica Mawer titled "Call for taxpayers to fund Wild Rivers court challenge"‎, upon which the above article is based, asserts that the pending High Court challenge seeks to overturn the Wild Rivers Act 2005.

Yet, most other media articles to date in relation to this issue have stated that ALL the High Court challenge seeks to do is challenge the three wild river declarations, Lockhart, Stewart and Archer Rivers - and on three basic grounds:
1. Incorrect procedures followed by the Qld government in making these three declarations (as outlined in the Balkanu presentation at the 2nd Wild Rivers Senate hearing, held recently in Cairns);
2. Negative impact on native title rights and interests under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and;
3. Negative impact on property rights under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Qld).

Is Jessica Mawer's article in error, or is there indeed, an additional ground not yet discusssed by the media?

Can someone please help clarify?

Syd Walker said...

It is interesting that Warren Entsch's media release says "Native Title holders want the legislation overturned and have lodged a writ in the High Court of Australia claiming it is invalid and racially discriminating."

Is that correct? Are Noel Pearson and his colleagues really seeking to overturn the entire Act?

If so, what will happen to Wild Rivers declarations already made elsewhere in the State with the support of local indigenous people?

Or could it be that Warren has his facts wrong and that the legal challenge is merely against specific declarations?

Perhaps Warren is so keen to get back to down and dirty wedge politics, after three years abstinence, that he couldn't care a damn about the facts?

This is, after all, the same Warren Ensch who supported the invasions of Afghanstan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, even though many in his constituency argued at the time that these invasions were illegal, immoral, misguided and certain to lead to a protracted, bloody humanitarian disaster.

MaryO said...

Above, Mr Entsch says that the legal case was an important constitutional matter and needed to be properly dealt with.

How so? Please, Mr Entsch, can you explain further... Perhaps there is one, but this has not yet been made clearly evident from the information provided in the public domain to date.

That is, the grounds for the High Court challenge so far presented by the media have made no mention of constitutional legal issues. And the issue of property appears to be addressed in this instance via the The Racial Discrimination Act - rather than via The Constitution itself.

BTW, I have tried to get a copy of the Writ, as lodged by the Cape York Land Council, but have just been told by the High Court admin folk this would cost me $31.

Tempted as there really has been so little detail provided by the media to the public. But hoping to avoid having to pay just to know a little more.

BTW, made an error in my post above. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 is a Cth Act, not Qld - just to save confusion.