Indigenous North Stradbroke Islanders are mounting a High Court challenge against the Queensland ‘s decision to extend mining on the island until 2035.
Indigenous North Stradbroke Islanders are taking the Queensland government to the high court over a mining deal that they say tramples over their native title rights.
The case is challenging the state’s decision to extend mining on the island off Brisbane until 2035, 10 years after it was legislated to end.
The island’s traditional owners, the Quandamooka people, say the Newman government’s legislation contravenes the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act.
“What the extension does now is jeopardises our environment and jeopardises our cultural heritage sites,” Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation CEO Cameron Costello told reporters on Friday.
The areas currently under mining lease were set to revert to native title in 2020.
Mr Costello said the extension denied indigenous people of their right to hunt, gather, meet and conduct traditional ceremonies on the island.
“That’s what this does – it strips our rights to do that,” he said.
“It was meant to be national park for the preservation and for the economic benefit of the Quandamooka people.”
In 2011, the former Labor government banned mining past 2025 to create more national parks, which would be partly managed by the Quandamooka people.
Queensland South Native Title Services CEO Kevin Smith said traditional owners believed the Newman government’s legislation to extend mining was invalid under Commonwealth’s Native Title Act.
Elders delivered a writ to the high court’s Brisbane registry office on Friday morning.
Mr Costello said the situation was disappointing given elders across the country had fought so hard for land rights, while native title holders on the island had already begun investigating sustainable industries, such as agriculture and fisheries.
“Instead of putting our energy into those things we are now having to protect our rights that our ancestors have fought for,” he said.
“(After) sixteen years of negotiation, for my elders to have to go back to parliament two years after the native title and beg for their rights to be heard it’s very disappointing.”
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said it was up to the court to decide whether his government’s legislation stood, but added the LNP made its position on the issue clear before the 2012 election.
The people of North Stradbroke Island had voted for the mining extension by strongly backing the party at the ballot box, he said.
“Yes, there is this particular claim, but there are Aboriginal people who work at the mine who want this to continue and people on Stradbroke Island voted for mining to continue,” Mr Newman told reporters.