A proposed deal to settle native title claims in the southwest has been described as “a whitewash with a billion dollars” by Swan River opponents.
Picture: Noongar elder Richard Wilkes
Premier Colin Barnett met members of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council in Perth today to explain the State Government's settlement proposal.
The Government hopes to settle the native title claim over Perth and the South West this year, with an estimated $1 billion package of cash injections and land transfers to the Noongar people.
The deal would extinguish all future native title claims for the area, but benefit an estimated 35,000 Noongar descendants.
Mr Barnett told 6PR that signing the deal would be “a courageous and big step by the Noongar people“, giving them self-determination and a future fund to benefit their people.
But about 30 protesters waved placards and chanted “No deal” outside the Kings Park venue where the premier addressed Noongar elders.
In scenes reminiscent of the Australia Day security scare involving the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, protesters banged on the glass walls of the building in which Mr Barnett met Indigenous leaders.
Mr Barnett's exit from the building was delayed by about 30 minutes.
Police escorted protesters away from the building's windows as the Premier's minders worked out how he would leave the building.
At about 11.30am, Mr Barnett, surrounded by security officers in black suits, walked from the front of the building and was ushered into an official car as protesters shouted, “No deal, Barnett” and pressed in close.
Noongar elder Richard Wilkes said he thought the deal would be illegal and SWALSC was falsely representing Swan River people who didn't agree with it.
"This land up here belongs to the Swan River people and we speak for it. This is a whitewash with a billion dollars,” he said.
Mr Wilkes said his people would not give the land away and would look at taking legal action against the deal.
“People would like to see us sit in the shadows and disappear, but we won't; we can't do that because we have the rights to this country for 40,000 years.”
SWALSC Chief Executive Officer Glen Kelly said there was a lack of understanding about native title in WA's southwest.
“The protesters clearly don't understand that under native title, if we go through the courts, they get nothing because of the massive extinguishment of native title across the southwest.
“We expect opposition because we know some people want to put everything into native title, all the social justice issues, all the sovereignty issues, but native title isn't about that,” Mr Kelly said.The State Government's proposed deal has received bipartisan support from WA's Labor opposition.
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