As the spokesman for Country Alliance, I am calling on the Baillieu Government to right the wrong done to the Bangerang people by the Bracks Government in their 2004 land management deal.
The 1995 native title claim by the Yorta Yorta was rejected by the Federal and High courts of Australia. Despite this the Bracks Victorian Government entered into an agreement with the Yorta Yorta to give them a say in the management and use of public lands in northern Victoria including the Barmah State Park and other areas along the Murray and Goulburn Rivers.
In drawing up the agreement the then Attorney General, Rob Hulls and the Minister for the Environment, Gavin Jennings completely ignored the fact that the Bangerang and not the Yorta Yorta were the traditional owners of most of the affected land.
Since that agreement the Bangerang people have been denied a voice in the management of their land, they have been excluded from employment opportunities within the parks system and have been the victims of snubs and injustice by several shire councils who rightly or wrongly feel bound by the agreement to recognise only the Yorta Yorta.
Despite numerous promises by a number of local Liberal and National politicians that the Bangerang would receive proper recognition when they were in government nothing has been done and the issue appears to have been swept under the parliamentary carpet.
“This is not a question of the recognition of rights of traditional owners, it is about recognition of the rights of the correct traditional owners. The agreement with the Yorta Yorta was a mistake and an injustice, whether well intentioned or otherwise. It is now time that the injustice is fixed.
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