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Byron Shire
November 30, 2021

Govt backflips over coastal land claims

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The NSW government has backflipped on its controversial plan to ban Aboriginal land rights claims over beaches, a plan many have described as unnecessary and racist.

Aboriginal communities from the Tweed Byron area on Monday joined a statewide protest against the state government’s controversial plan to ban them from making land claims on coastal areas, including many longstanding claims.

Fairfax Media reported today that the government yesterday withdrew the planned changes to crown land laws, but a spokesman for lands minister Kevin Humphries told the media group he was still committed on pushing through the laws.

The government’s coastal lands bill which had been presented to parliament would retrospectively extinguish 1,800 claims yet to be determined, with a spokesman saying it aimed to protect the principle that beaches should not be owned exclusively by any one group or individual.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) had described the legislation is ‘racist’ and ‘scaremongering, while the Tweed-Byron Aboriginal Land Council (TBALC) says its repercussions could be enormous.

TBLAC chair Des Williams, who joined hundreds of protesters at the rally in Sydney, said that a number of land claims on the north coast could be ‘wiped out’ if the legislation went through retrospectively.

The Fairfax Media report says the government’s about-face represents an embarrassing backdown.

Greens MP Jan Barham also questioned why premier Mike Baird allowed the bill to be introduced ‘with no consultation whatsoever with Aboriginal people and without justification’.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council said the bill treated indigenous people with ‘disregard and contempt’ and that no successful land claim had ever prevented public beach access.

The Shooters and Fishers Party, according to the report,  intended to combine with Labor, the Greens and the Christian Democrats to oppose the bill in the upper house.

Mr Humphries yesterday said the government ‘remains firmly committed to the notion that the state’s beaches belong to every resident of NSW and should not be privatised’.

But Labor’s Aboriginal affairs spokeswoman Linda Burney, who had called the bill ‘racist’, said comparing Aboriginal land rights to privatisation was ‘divisive and not in the spirit of Australian reconciliation’.

La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Chris Ingrey told Fairfax Media that most Aboriginal claims on beaches sought to ensure proper protection and management of culturally or religiously significant sites.

Mr Ingrey said ‘no local Aboriginal land council wants to stop the public from using and enjoying the beaches’ and that introducing the legislation without consultation was ‘sneaky’ and offensive.


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  1. Who remembers the Arakwal of Byron Bay-s 15 year fight to have there coastal country returned to there people?
    This win for the Arakwal has been a great success in so many ways.
    Many Arakwal are permanently employed with the national park dept where they are doing a great job in managing the national park.
    After so many many sad years of aboriginal people being treated like second class citizens and much worse of course in their own land this idea of having the Arakwal manage the park in conjunction with the nat- parks Dept is one of the best solutions I have seen for a problem that isnt going away (stolen lands/teranulise etc etc).
    At the time of the lands handover there was talk by pollies of the ILUA (indigenous land use agreement) as being a template for further claims as it is fair enough and at least a land claim solution that is more than workable. Who better can we have to manage the Australian county side than the people that took very good care of it for at least 40 thousand years. Another thing is they are happy and I believe love this work.
    I have seen he results of land rights happening, like greatly improved self esteem and purpose in life.
    We see some Aboriginal people drinking in the parks and often I observe Non aboriginal people judging all by the few. (The non Aboriginals judging usually are ignorant of the fact that most are gainfully employed in some way and add to our country as much as any group. Abouriginal like the open space of the parks for eg as this open space living is in their blood. For many its been only 50 to a hundred years since they were dragged from hunting and gathering into a foreign scary war run world.
    Give Aboriginal people a big break and support their land claims . this country is certainly big enough.
    So many ignorant comments and negativity against them I hear regularly. I would put my full name on this story but afraid as I have been threatened in the past for standing alongside the first Australians im white. When I do argue the point I am feed with all sorts of scaremongering and false statements, ‘My land will be taken’ is a common one I hear, I strongly feel that this wont happen.
    Aboriginal people are generaly friendly fine caring people not of violence, this is one of the reasons their land was taken so easily.
    In new Zealand where the first people were a warrior nation, because of their strong resistance at least got a treaty, somthing the Abouriginals have not.
    I went to N.Z. for 5 years when 3 with dads work, I came back to AU and started high school . I had a funny NZ accent and played no AU games etc so I found no friends in my first year, yes I have been a victim of some degree of racism . The school was a school for Abouriginal kids to voluntarily come from across AU and join with the white majority of students to gain an education. I was touched by the kindness I was given by the Aboriginal kids, some saw I was alone and a little different so took me in and made me feel wanted. pls support these great people and watch them flourish. Already their population has dropped from 74 states approx 3 million people to 800 thousand with no recognised states since occupation,we are talking about cultures being upset across the world and we sent money and care, lets care about our own first, there are solutions.
    I wouldnt put anything past this Govt- re:extractive industries. The sand miners I read are wanting to do over our beaches again as with new technology they are able to now extract minerals to a greater degree than their last go, gold, rutile for stainless steel and nuclear titanium war heas etc as well as Zircon electronic etc and more are in the beaches . Is this why there will be no land claims on beached, its very possible in these times of minnig with out consequence. thanks David


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