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kooparoona niara - Aboriginal National Park

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 27 October 2022

Tags: Aboriginal Heritage, Tasmanian Aboriginals, National Parks, kooparoona niara/Great Western Tiers


Your Government repeatedly claims land returns to Aboriginal Tasmanians are a priority. Your predecessor explicitly invited proposals for the land returns in his state of the state speech last year. In response to that invitation, in March last year the Aboriginal Land Council formally claimed ownership of the kooparoona niara-Great Western Tiers area and proposed a new tenure - an Aboriginal-owned national park inside the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This claim gives your Government the opportunity to deliver both land justice and meet the recommendations of UNESCO's 2015 mission for the reservation of world heritage-listed land in a status as national park.

Will you deliver on the invitation of your predecessor, honour the claim of the Aboriginal community, commit to create a new Aboriginal national park tenure and return kooparoona niara as lutruwita's first Aboriginal-owned and managed national park?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for the question. The Tasmanian Liberal Government recognises our Aboriginal people have a profound and ongoing connection to Tasmania's lands and waters. Returning more land to Tasmanian Aboriginal people is a priority for our Government and is a key aspect of our reset relationship policy agenda.

The review into the model for returning land, which aims to identify the barriers to returning land and explore options to improve the land return process, is an integral step in this process. Feedback from consultation undertaken to date has made it clear that the current process to return land does not work for all Tasmanian Aboriginal people. A new approach is necessary if land returns are to play a constructive part of our reconciliation journey with all Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

In May this year, we were pleased to release a consultation paper, a revised model for returning land to Tasmania's Aboriginal people, a consultation paper on proposals for change, which has taken that into account and outlines the Government's proposed approach to amend the act and return more land to Aboriginal people. Mr Jaensch is leading this reform.

Key amendments proposed in the consultation paper include: •

extending the scope and intent of the act to meet community expectations; •

enabling broader and more inclusive representation on the ALCT electoral roll; •

simplifying the process for land return by creating a new instrument of transfer for significant parcels of Crown land; •

expanding provisions for local or regional Aboriginal community organisations to play a role in land management; •

creating transparent processes and clear criteria for proposing and assessing land for return; and -

Ms O'Connor - Do you want to address the question?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Yes. •

clarifying the role of the Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania and requiring reporting of administrative and land management activity.

We welcome feedback on our proposals for change and we will be using it to inform our drafting of amending legislation. The intention is to introduce legislation to parliament as soon as possible to facilitate the return of more land to Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

The Government is also having conversations with Tasmanian Aboriginal communities on areas of land of interest to them, either for potential land return or joint land management arrangements, and is working to progress these options as a matter of priority after the review is finalised.

The 2021-22 Tasmanian Budget provided $970 000 over two years to support major Aboriginal policy reform initiatives, including drafting new Aboriginal heritage legislation and finalising the review into the model for returning land.

I acknowledge the proposals from Tasmanian Aboriginal organisations, including the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, in regards to kooparoona niara Aboriginal National Park and the broader concept of Aboriginal reserve class. The minister has had conversations with these organisations on their proposals. There are a range of views as to what a national park might be and how it would be managed, and our Government is committed to ensuring all voices have the opportunity to be heard as we further explore these concepts.

It is important to note that the proclamations before parliament and the return of land to Tasmanian Aboriginal people are completely separate matters. The process of land return to Tasmanian Aboriginal people is achieved through a separate mechanism. The Future Potential Production Forest Land (FPPFL) within the TWWHA is currently unreserved public land subject to the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act 2014, and in accordance with section 4(8) of that act the managing entity cannot sell, transfer, or convey this land to any other person. This is the point of law, not policy.

The current process for proclamations of the FPPFL in the TWWHA does not preclude any future land return or joint land management with the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and would in fact be a necessary step to be undertaken before any such arrangements could be put in place. In order for other management arrangements for this land to apply, such as the return to Tasmanian Aboriginal people, this land must be reserved under the Nature Conservation Act 2002, which is what, of course, we seek to achieve.

We are committed to handing back land to Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It is a very important process of pathway, treaty and of course reconciliation. I absolutely guarantee that this is a clear priority for our minister and our myself, that will continue. We will not be deterred from achieving that objective.