Correction: Native Title story

Midwest Times

The Native Title Tribunal has contacted us pointing out several corrections that need to be made to the story “Exploration allowed” in the Midwest Times February 7 p9.

The headline is misleading because the proposed exploration has been prevented until Cuvier Resources Pty Ltd negotiates in good faith with the Thudgari native title holders.

At the time of the January 22 determination Cuvier Resources did not have an exploration licence over about 128.86sqkm in the Upper Gascoyne, but had applied for the licence.

Native Title Member Helen Shurven considered three matters in determining whether to uphold the Traditional Owners’ objections.

They were interference with community or social activities; interference with sites or areas of particular significance; and major disturbance.

While she said the Native Title holders did not provide conclusive evidence that the company would interfere with community or social activities, she agreed that exploration could interfere with sites or areas of particular significance.

The Traditional Owners’ objection was therefore upheld, not dismissed.

The Midwest Times thanks the Native Title Tribunal for pointing out these matters of concern, and for its continuing assistance with our efforts to report Native Title stories in our region.

This is the story we published in the Midwest Times paper edition on February 7 and online on February 9:

The Native Title Tribunal has allowed mineral exploration on lands with recognised native title.

The Native Title Tribunal has dismissed traditional owners’ objections and allowed a resource company to explore on a large patch of land over which they hold native title.

The private company, Cuvier Resources, has an exploration licence over about 128.86sqkm in the Upper Gascoyne.

The Kulyamba Aboriginal Corporation holds native title rights and interests, on behalf of the Thudgari People, over 86.31 per cent of the licence area in the upper Gascoyne, tribunal documents say.

When determining the matter, tribunal member Helen Shurven said she had to consider three things. The first was whether the proposed exploration would interfere directly with the Thudgari People’s community or social activities and secondly whether it would interfere with areas or sites of particular significance to the Thudgari People.

Thirdly, Ms Shurven said she considered whether the activity would involve, or create rights whose exercise was likely to involve major disturbance to the land or waters concerned.

In her judgment, she said documentary and oral evidence from native title holders did not adequately establish any of these things, giving several examples.

“The Kulyamba Aboriginal Corporation attached to their contentions a number of colour photographs, with labels such as ‘Carvings that date back before our time’, ‘Sense of adventure’ and ‘Bush food’,” she said.

“However, the written material provides no indication of where these photographs were taken.

“No submissions were made at the hearing to confirm if and how the photographs relate to the licence area, although there was the opportunity to do so.”

Member Shurven also referred to sworn evidence from traditional owner Charlie Lapthorne, whom she accepted had the authority to speak on behalf of Thudgari People for the licence area.

“Mr Lapthorne stated he goes to an area just south of Mount Palgrave to camp with his grandchildren,” she said.

“However, he provided no further details about the frequency or intensity of this activity.”

The Thudgari People’s native title lands include 15 pastoral stations. They lease and run cattle on Ullawarra Station and have signed indigenous land use agreements for the other 14 stations.

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