DEPUTY Premier Jackie Trad has been secretly lobbying aboriginal elders to lockup tribal land to mining on Cape York.
Ms Trad is spearheading a push to “protect” vast tracts of aboriginal land from mining interests as part of negotiations with traditional owners of three native title groups in remote far north Queensland.
Under the deal, a huge swath of Cape York — totalling more than one million hectares — would be nominated as protected land to shut-out any future mining exploration projects and is a possible prelude to a blanket World Heritage-listing push by the Labor Party.
It comes as a Jangga tribal elder, whose country adjoins the Adani mine, warned Ms Trad of “war” with indigenous people if Labor continued to thwart the Carmichael project and prohibit development in the Galilee Basin.
Cape York aboriginal leader Gerhardt Pearson slammed the “secrecy and stealth” of the latest move, he believes would strip traditional owners of the right to future jobs and economic development on their own country.
“Jackie Trad and the Greenie activists want to lockup Cape York to mining,’’ Mr Pearson, head of Balkanu, the Cape York Development Corporation, said yesterday.
“It’s exactly the same as anti-Adani where they splinter the native title holders with breakaway groups, and get this quasi-consent to block it.
“Why fight for decades to get the keys to the land, and then throw the keys away?
“They’re using every trick in the book to knock over major projects, but where is the job creation and welfare advocacy for blackfellas in these places?”
Ms Trad, as the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, flew to Cairns last Thursday for private talks with the Olkola People, the largest private landholder in Cape York, who control more than 870,000 hectares of tribal country near Laura.
Ms Trad was “consulting with all relevant stakeholders to find the most appropriate way to give indigenous landholders a more significant say in the development of their lands”, a spokeswoman said.
Olkola chairman Mike Ross is a staunch advocate of the aboriginal legal right to say no to mining exploration on freehold land and says “mining has no part in our 10-year plan”.
He supports the Land, Explosives and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 to amend the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Act 2007 to allow “protection from mining interests” along with Batavia Traditional Owners and Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporations.
But there is disarray over a possible formal mechanism to nominate protected lands.
Queensland Resources Council’s Ian Macfarlane said they had made it clear to the Palaszczuk Government that it would work with it on the process.
“We have been assured by the Government that we will be consulted throughout,” he said.
“No other industry, other than the public service, has our record on workforce participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“We are proud, as an industry, that we have 4% of our workforce are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and that is the same proportion of Queensland’s population,”
“We expect to work with Minister Lynham and the Deputy Premier, in her role as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.”
*Article first printed under the heading “Trad leans on owners for a ban on mining” by Peter Michael, Cairns Post – 15/05/2019