Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader
Lutruwita/Tasmania was never ceded by Aboriginal people. It was stolen from them at the point of a gun. The path to reconciliation has been slow, painful and full of disappointment for Aboriginal Tasmanians.
It has been 17 years since any lands were returned to Aboriginal people through State Parliament. It’s been seven years since the UN World Heritage Committee asked the Australian and Tasmanian Governments to upgrade the tenure of unallocated Crown Lands inside the World Heritage Area extension to National Park.
It has been 15 months since the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania responded to the then-Premier’s invitation to submit a claim for land return. There has been no response from the Gutwein or Rockliff Government to ALCT’s formal claim for kooparoona niara to be returned and managed as an Aboriginal owned national park.
Instead, on 2 June – in Reconciliation Week – the Parks Minister tabled two proclamations to upgrade the tenure of unallocated Crown Lands within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Before that day, for fifteen months, no conversation was had, nor was there an acknowledgement or response sent to the Aboriginal Land Council.
This is an insult to lutruwita’s First People.
This is why we moved to do something highly unusual for the Greens, and have moved to delay reserve tenure upgrades inside the World Heritage Area so Parliament debate the return of kooparoona niara/Great Western Tiers to Aboriginal people as an Aboriginal Protected Area.
We are calling on the Rockliff Government to delay this proclamation, do the work to establish a reserve class tenure for Aboriginal lands, and return this ancient cultural landscape to its people.
This was a key recommendation in the Pathway to Truth-Telling and Treaty report handed down by respected Professors Kate Warner and Tim McCormack late last year.
We stand with the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, Tasmanian National Parks Association and the Tasmanian Wilderness Society in calling on the government to stop paying lip service on reconciliation.
The Greens will bring our motion on for debate after the winter recess, unless Premier Rockliff intervenes. We urge the Premier to remove the proclamations and start again.
We hope the new Premier will do what his two Liberal predecessors have not, and return kooparoona niara to the Aboriginal people of lutruwita/Tasmania, then accelerate the process of land returns through all possible means.