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Editors --- "Report on the Operations of the Land Tribunal Established under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld) for the Year Ended 30 June 1998 - Digest" [1999] AUIndigLawRpr 7; (1999) 4(1) Australian Indigenous Law Reporter 132


Report on the Operations of the Land Tribunal Established under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld) for the Year Ended 30 June 1998

Queensland Land Tribunals

Brisbane 1998.

This is the seventh annual report of the Tribunal. It deals with the membership of the Tribunal, its functions and its procedures. The Practice Directions published in the 1992 Annual Report remain substantially unchanged. [See (1996) 1(2) AILR 316-329].

The report covers land claims in Part III:

(a) Claimable land

16. Between December 1991 and June 1996, 55 areas of land were made available for claim under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991. These can be categorised as follows:

National Parks 17

Vacant Crown land (unallocated State land) 36

Tidal land within National Parks 2

17. In the year covered by this report, no land was made available for claim.

(b) Land claimed

18. In the year covered by this report the Land Claims Registrar referred to the Land Tribunal two claims, namely:

(a) a claim to Cedar Bay National Park; and

(b) the sixth claim to Lawn Hill National Park.

19. Cedar Bay National Park: The land is described as National Park 212 (NP212, Banks) and is on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, south of Cooktown. It has an area of about 5650 ha.

20. The claim is made by a group of Aboriginal people described as the Jalunji, Kuku Nyungkul and Kuku Yalanji peoples. The groups claim the land on the grounds of traditional affiliation and historical association.

21. Sixth claim to Lawn Hill National Park: Lawn Hill National Park is described as Lot 7 on Plan NPW503, Counties of Gregory, Mueller and Morstone. It has an area of about 282 000 ha. Five claims to the National Park were referred to the Land Tribunal between March and October 1996.

22. The sixth land claim is made by Mr Peter Noel Bird on behalf of the Nguburinji (Nooburinji) people on the grounds of traditional affiliation and historical association.

23. The total area of land claimed as at 30 June 1998 was approximately 2 709 879 ha or 1.57 per cent of the area of Queensland. The 41 parcels of land claimed comprise:

National Parks 15

Vacant Crown land (unallocated State land) 24

Tidal land within National Parks 2

Former Aboriginal reserve 1

24. The claim to the former Aboriginal reserve was subsequently withdrawn, as were the separate claims to the eastern and western parts of Rokeby National Park (now part of Mungkan Kaanju National Park). A table giving details of the land claimed and the claimants is Annexure A to this report.

(c) Land claim hearing

26. During the year covered by this report the Land Tribunal heard the land claim made by the Kuuku Yau people to Iron Range National Park. The Park is located on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, near Weymouth Bay and Cape Weymouth, and has an area of about 36 600 ha. In July 1997, evidence was heard at Lockhart River and at sites within the National Park. Final evidence and oral submissions were heard in November 1997. The Tribunal hearing the claim comprised Miss Stephanie Forgie (Deputy Chairperson), Mr Terry O'Shane and Mr Ron Wright.

(d) Scheduled hearings

28. The hearing of the land claims to Mungkan Kaanju National Park and a nearby area of unallocated State land are scheduled to commence on 27 July 1998 at Coen. The claims are made by the Mongan, Ayapathu and Kaanju peoples and their descendants on the grounds of traditional affiliation and historical association. Mongan Kanji National Park (formerly Archer Bend and Rokeby National Parks) is located on Cape York Peninsula, west of Coen.

(e) Land claim reports

31. On 20 February 1998 the Land Tribunal sent to the Minister for Natural Resources its report on the claim by the Wuthathi people to 10 islands near Cape Grenville on Cape York Peninsula. The Tribunal recommended the grant of nine islands on the grounds of traditional affiliation and historical association.

32. The Land Tribunal recommended that the land be granted in fee simple to:

The group of Wuthathi people who have traditional affiliations with the land and who include the descendants, including descendants in accordance with Aboriginal tradition, of the following named persons: Pintharra, Johnson Moreton, Frank Wilson, Ida 'Waterbag' Temple, Tom 'Chachil' Warren, and Annie Athanamu Punda.

33. The Tribunal recommended that only nine islands be granted because there was no island at or in the vicinity of the area of claimable land described as Lot 1 on ABL26. The Tribunal was satisfied that no island existed at the time when the land so described was gazetted as available land or at the date on which the claim was made.

34. The Tribunal is currently preparing its report on the claim to Iron Range National Park.

(f) First grant of claimed land

35. On 25 November 1997, freehold title to an area of unallocated State land (USL), near Birthday Mountain was handed over to the traditional owners. The grantees as trustees of the land are Thomas Creek, Allan Creek, Ann Creek, Jennifer Creek, Patricia Creek, and James Creek for the benefit of the southern Kanji group of Aboriginal people. The land is described as Lot 1 on Plan CP894189, County of Sidmouth and has an area of about 2460 ha.

36. The Land Tribunal's report on the land claim (known as the Birthday Mountain report) was presented to the Minister of Lands in February 1995. This was the first grant of claimed land since the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 was enacted.

(g) Sale of land claim reports

37. The Tribunal's land claim reports are sold only through the Department of Natural Resources Service Centre. All seven reports produced by the Tribunal are available:

1. Aboriginal Land Claims to Cape Melville National Park, Flinders Group National Park, Clack Island National Park and Nearby Islands (Cape Melville Report);

2. Aboriginal Land Claim to Simpson Desert National Park (Simpson Desert Report);

3. Aboriginal Land Claims to vacant State land in the vicinity of Birthday Mountain (Birthday Mountain Report);

4. Aboriginal Land Claim to available State land near Helenvale: Wunbuwarra Banana Creek (Wunbuwarra Banana Creek Report);

5. Aboriginal Land Claim to Lakefield National Park (Lakefield Report);

6. Aboriginal Land Claim to Cliff Islands National Park (Cliff Islands Report;

7. Aboriginal Land Claim to the Ten Islands near Cape Grenville: The Wuthathi Claim (Ten Islands Report).

38. Copies of the printed report can be purchased for $15.00 per copy from:

Sales Centre (Woolloongabba)

Department of Natural Resources

Locked Bag 40

Coorparoo DC QLD 4151.

Phone: 07 3896 3216

Fax: 07 3896 3510

(h) Status of claims determined by the Land Tribunal

39. At the date of this report the Land Tribunal had recommended the grant of freehold title in respect of each of the claims about which it had presented reports to the Minister. As noted in previous annual reports, Ministers have accepted the Tribunal's recommendations in relation to the following claims:

(a) Cape Melville, Flinders Island and Clack Island National Parks and nearby islands;

(b) Simpson Desert National Park;

(c) unallocated State land near Birthday Mountain; and

(d) unallocated State land near Helenvale (Wunbuwarra Banana Creek).

40. Title has been granted only in respect of the unallocated State land near Birthday Mountain.

41. No decisions have been made in relation to the Tribunal's recommendations for the grant of fee simple title to:

(a) Lakefield National Park;

(b) Cliff Islands National Park; and

(c) nine islands (USL) near Cape Grenville.

42. The Table (p 10) and Map (p 11) set out the status and location of each area of land claimed to date.

(i) Relevance of land claim proceedings to other land claims and native title applications

43. In the previous two annual reports I noted that, as more Aboriginal land claims are heard and reports on them are prepared, it becomes more likely that evidence in one land claim proceeding will be relied on in land claims to adjoining or nearby blocks of land. There have been instances when claimants to one area have been witnesses in support of neighbouring groups in other claims.

44. The use of such evidence and reports in other proceedings is not confined to land claimed within Queensland. Areas of Northern Territory may be claimed under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) and reports on some of those claimed may be relevant to some Aboriginal land claims in Queensland. Similarly, evidence given in land claims in Queensland may be relevant to claims in the Northern Territory. An instance of such was the land claim to part of the Simpson Desert in the south-east of the Northern Territory.

45. Difficulties arise where parties to a claim (including native title claims) in another jurisdiction apply for access to evidence which was given to the Land Tribunal subject to restrictions on access to and use of the evidence. The issues raised by such applications were discussed in the previous annual reports and it was suggested that there may be benefit in developing a protocol for dealing with such applications. Arrangements have been made for me to meet with senior judges of other courts and tribunals who deal with native title and Aboriginal land claims to discuss the issue.

Report on the Operations of the Land Tribunal Established under the Torres Strait
Islander Land Act 1991
(Qld) for the Year Ended 30 June 1998

Queensland Land Tribunals

Brisbane 1998

This is the seventh annual report of the Tribunal. Unlike the Land Tribunal under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld), membership remains confined to the Chairperson, Mr Graeme Neate.

Indeed, it has not been a busy Tribunal:

8. To date no land has been declared to be available for claim under the Torres Strait Islander Land Act 1991 (Qld). Consequently, no land claims have referred by the Land Claims Registrar to the Tribunal.

It is not, therefore, surprising that some 27 native title claimant applications have been lodged in respect of land in the Torres Strait area. Four were subsequently withdrawn. Twenty one had been accepted by the National Native Title Tribunal at 30 June 1998 [15].


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