Indigenous land return ‘ends shame’ (Sydney Morning Herald)

06 Oct Indigenous land return ‘ends shame’ (Sydney Morning Herald)

Petrina Berry


Queensland will return thousands of hectares of national park on Cape York Peninsula to its indigenous owners.

Premier Anna Bligh on Wednesday told parliament more than 75,000 hectares of national park, known as Archer Bend, would be revoked and returned to the Wik Mungkan people.

The move comes more than 30 years after it was taken from traditional owners by the National Party government of the day.

Ms Bligh said that in November 1977, the Bjelke-Petersen government declared land outside Coen as national park, robbing the Wik Mungkan people of the chance to buy their homeland.

“The Wik Mungkan people battled the National Party government for years over the lease,” Ms Bligh said.

“John (Koowarta) was a Wik stockman. He saved his money towards a dream that one day he would be able to buy back Archer River, the land of his birth.

“The land had been leased from the Queensland government by an absentee American investor who, when contacted in 1974 by John Koowarta, agreed to sell him the lease at market rates.”

But, she said, then premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen thwarted that right by going through “a back door” to declare the land national park. …Go to article.