"Indigenous need chance to create own business, says leader" – The Australian (Andrew Burrell)

September 30, 2015

A senior Aboriginal leader has warned Malcolm Turnbull that he must “get it right” with property rights and economic development if Aboriginal communities are to survive.

Wayne Bergmann, the chairman of the Expert Indigenous Working Group, would not comment on specifics when he delivered his committee’s report to Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion yesterday, noting that the elevation of a new Prime Minister this month had given fresh hope to Aboriginal people.

“Malcolm Turnbull has to get it right because fundamentally no Aboriginal community is going to survive without being part of the economic activities of their region,” he said.

The indigenous working group has examined ways to allow native title holders to create subleases on their land for their own developments, including building houses, attracting private investment and creating businesses such as tourism projects.

“We believe you do not need to extinguish native title to create economic development; that there should be a way of creating land tenure that recognises and sits with native title,” Mr Bergmann said. Mr Bergmann writes in The

Australian today that some governments remain unsupportive of the economic initiatives of Aboriginal people.

He cites the former Newman government’s decision to name Swiss miner Glencore as the preferred proponent to develop the Aurukun bauxite deposit on the Cape York Peninsula.

The decision dashed the hopes of the local Wik and Wik Way people who wanted to be part of a local joint venture to develop the project. The Labor government of Anastasia Palaszczuk has refused to overturn the decision.

“Here was an opportunity for Aboriginal people to make a significant step towards economic independence,’’ Mr Bergmann writes.

Wayne Bergmann

“History has shown that a failure to support the economic initiatives of traditional owners burdens our welfare system and creates cycles of poverty and unemployment.


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