CAPE York traditional owners who campaigned on election day in Brisbane against the wild rivers legislation and a blanket World Heritage proposal achieved a significant win for their people, Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says.
A contingent of traditional owners, including members of Cape York Sustainable Futures, travelled to Brisbane to ensure voters in the critical seat of Ashgrove were aware of the real risks posed by the controversial policy.
Mr Entsch said their tireless campaign efforts not only helped LNP leader Campbell Newman’s win his seat and in turn the role of premier but it also convinced many south-east Queenslanders that wild rivers was a poor policy that would hinder efforts by indigenous communities to pursue economic and social opportunities.
“The passion showed by respected Cape York elders such as Phyllis Yunkaporta in fighting this ill-conceived policy is commendable and admirable,” Mr Entsch said.
“Phyllis and her hard-working team made it clear to people in Brisbane that wild rivers is a legislation that would threaten their way of life. Traditional owners have managed their own country for tens of thousands of years yet the Labor Government, at the behest of The Wilderness Society, decided that Cape York landholders should not have a say in their own country or their future and this was effected first through the wild rivers legislation then through the efforts to introduce blanket World Heritage listing across the whole Cape.
“Traditional owners like Phyllis knew a change in government was the first step in restoring their rights and to their credit, they helped achieve that on Saturday. They flew to Brisbane to expose the lies of the Labor Government and The Wilderness Society in relation to both wild rivers and blanket World Heritage on Cape York.
“They made sure their voices were heard. I absolutely applaud them. They secured a massive win for their communities.”
Mr Entsch, who last week presented a speech in Federal Parliament about the disadvantages posed by wild rivers legislation, said traditional owners deserved the right to choose how their country was managed, including the ability to decide what economic activities could occur.
“The outgoing State Government treated Cape York people with contempt in introducing wild rivers legislation,” he said.
“This election result is a damning indictment on The Wilderness Society and their political puppets imposing an agenda that is more about fundraising and securing votes in metropolitan Australia than the best interests of Cape York residents.”
Mr Entsch said he looked forward to working with the Cape York community and the new State Government, particularly Member for Cook David Kempton, to reinstate security of tenure to Cape York landholders and give Cape York residents the opportunity to determine their own future.