The proposed extension of the world heritage area without any Aboriginal input is a disgrace, Legal
Director Michael Mansell said today.
“The extension area must be returned to Aboriginal people in outright ownership. More than a year
ago we proposed Aboriginal ownership and management of reserved areas under the forestry
agreement. Now is the time for Canberra to show its hand on historic justice.
Canberra should insist that Aborigines gain our lands back. The $7m that the Commonwealth
promised for management costs should be directed to employ Aborigines in managing our lands.
The Commonwealth has the power to impose its will under the 1967 referendum changes to the
constitution. But there should not be any issue: the Tasmanian government, supported by the Greens,
support return of lands to Aboriginals. The forest industry gave their support in early 2012. There
should be support all round for Aboriginal ownership.
Broad support would mean the State government could forego any compensation from the
Commonwealth for compulsory acquisition of State crown lands. That would mean the compensation
monies, likely to be millions, could go directly to Aboriginal to establish a small but important form of
The areas involved in the extension contain places where our people held corroborees and hunted for
the annual feast (western tiers and surrounding plains). These places were where the soldiers hunted
down and drove our ancestors from their traditional grounds. Some of the extension areas are very near
to known burial sites of great warriors.
We cannot abide being once again sidelined while our traditional lands are further removed from us. In
current national parks and conservation areas- Arthur Pieman, Mt William and South West national
park- set aside because of their Aboriginal values, we have no say, now ownership and no
involvement. We will not support this proposal for more of our lands to end up the same way as
other conservation areas.