Phil Sheridan Barrister at Law at PRA AGM 2009
The Trading of Property Rights in Queensland For Political Power
1. Agriculture in Australia currently faces significant challenges. By far the most
serious and difficult of these challenges are those imposed by Government.
2. It was ever thus.
3. These challenges are not about Science, Economics or the Environment; they are
about achieving and maintaining political power and ideological ends in Federal
and State Parliaments.
4. Governments at all levels have been placing conditions and restrictions on land
use in this country for 200 years as land use, production systems and property
rights have evolved over time.
5. One thing to remember, politicians play the Short Game for the Short Gain. The
political cycle runs for 2 to 3 years.
6. Let me tell you a tale that serves to illustrate the fact that the current challenges
were ever thus.
7. In 1813 Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains west of
Sydney. It was “The biggest sheep run they had ever seen” and so it was.
8. Out came the squatters and the sheep. The property rights of Aborigines were
9. The tenure was a very loose system of licence with few conditions apart from the
condition to stock the land and use it for grazing.
10. This was done to avoid land speculation and to foster economic development, the
production of food for the colony and wool to provide an export income.
11. Land and economic development also presented opportunities for Governments to
claim revenue to fund further development and subsidise immigration.
12. In the mid 1800’s, gold was discovered. Hungry miners needed mutton, beef and
the odd vegetable for special occasions, a town or two and a few hundred pubs in
each town, so the pattern of closer settlement developed.
13. Miners also needed some form of tenure in order to determine who could dig
where. There was a slight disagreement about that at a place called Battery Hill,
near Ballarat, but that is another story.
14. With increased investment in the land, came the demand for more secure tenure.
Licenses gave way to leases which gave way to freehold.
15. Pastoral pursuits and pastoral leases were pushed further into what was known as
“marginal country” as closer settlement took place and the more productive soils in
higher rainfall areas were given over to cropping.
16. In Queensland pastoral leases were granted but as the years went by leases came
with more definite conditions again mainly related to development such as fencing,
waters, yards and clearing of what was then known as “scrub” but what is now
known as the fragile ecosystem.
17. If a leaseholder completed the development and could afford it, in some
circumstances they could “buy” the lease and pay for any trees of value on the land
and have it converted to freehold.
18. Historically, freehold title enabled the holder to do pretty much as he or she
wished, with little or no interference from the Crown once Freehold Title was
19. Over the years this changed and the rights of freeholders were gradually reduced
via planning and other controls as governments at all levels, given power by the
people at the ballot box, sought to control and manage land use for the common
good and to optimise revenue.
Vegetation Management Controls on Freehold Land
20. In 1997, the Borbidge Government signed an agreement with the Commonwealth
that, in part, committed the Qld Government to put in place effective measures to
retain and manage vegetation and to reverse the long term decline in native
21. Little attention was paid to the effect on the property rights of those affected.
22. The taking of property rights when it suits is not confined to the ALP.
The Vegetation Management Act 1999 – The VMA
23. In 1999 the Beattie Government introduced the VMA to control clearing of
vegetation on freehold land.
24. In his Second reading speech on 8 December 1999, the then Minister Welford
commended the Bill to the House and said:
“Land clearing has long been recognised by the scientific community as a significant
factor in land degradation, the loss of biodiversity and accelerated greenhouse gas
25. In 2005, Professor Suri Ratnapala, Professor of Public Law at the University of
“In searching for an illustrative case of a statute that comprehensively defeats the values
of constitutional government, in particular the rule of law, democratic principle and the
basic requirements of natural justice, one need look no further than this Act.”
“The VMA violates almost all of the basic principles of constitutionalism and good
“The enforcement provisions of the VMA violate the most fundamental requirements of
criminal justice and should concern every civil libertarian.”
26. The VMA gave rise to the definition of vegetation categories as “Non Remnant”
and “Remnant”, broadly defined as land that had previously been cleared and that
which had not.
27. Remnant Vegetation was then divided into three categories: “Endangered” and “Of
Concern” and “Not of Concern” and as Minister Welford told the house, the core
purpose of the Legislation was to protect remnant vegetation in either
“Endangered” or “Of concern” RE’s.
28. But before the commencement of the VMA, negotiations between the Qld Govt and
the Cth broke down, with the Cth refusing to provide money to Qld to compensate
landholders affected by the legislation.
29. On 6 March 2000, the Beattie Government held a Country Cabinet Meeting in
“Premier Beattie told the packed hall the government wasn’t changing its laws any
further. In fact landholders have had a huge win. The vast bulk of land will now only
have voluntary tree clearing controls.”
The Vegetation Management Amendment Act – August 2000
30. True to his promise at Roma, Premier Beattie introduced the VMA Bill on 24
August 2000. By this time, the Howard Government had refused to provide
compensation to affected landholders and the Beattie Government moved to
amend the VM Act before it had actually commenced.
31. In his second reading speech, Minister Welford told the House (at page 2784 of the
“Amendments are required to ensure the burden for doing the right thing – for
protecting important vegetation communities and managing land sustainably – does not
fall unfairly on a few landholders.
“With no Commonwealth funding support, we regrettably have no choice but to remove
mandatory protection for these areas before the Vegetation Management Act is
proclaimed. This action honours a commitment the Premier made at a Community
Cabinet Meeting in Roma.
“This amendment means that on freehold land, we will protect “endangered” regional
ecosystems – that is, those with 10% or less of their original vegetation remaining – but
rely on the regional planning process and regional vegetation planning committees to
voluntarily extend protection, through a local planning process, beyond this level”.32. The Vegetation Management Act 1999 (as amended) commenced on 15
33. Unfortunately for landholders, the Department of Natural Resources did not hear of
the Amendment Act or if they did, they certainly took no notice of it.
34. They prosecuted landholders who cleared “Of concern” and “Not of Concern” RE’s
between September 2000 and April 2004. The exact number is unknown, but could
be up to 40.
35. They also refused permits to clear “Of Concern” and “Not of Concern” RE’s on
Freehold land during that four year period. The exact number is unknown.
36. They also issued Compliance Notices over that they had a “reasonable belief” that
had been cleared unlawfully, despite landholders being cleared by the Courts.
37. One upstart Junior Counsel was told that the VMA had been specifically designed
such that defence was impossible. All bases had been covered.
38. If, in the unlikely event that a defendant did win, DNR would Appeal and continue
appealing, eventually breaking the client. In the incomprehensible event that a
landholder won an appeal, the Government would just go into Parliament and
change the law.
Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2004.
39. Prior to the 2004 State Election, the Government pledged to phase out broadscale
clearing of Remnant Vegetation by 31 December 2006.
40. They won the election and set about honouring their election promise as some
governments do. From the Explanatory Notes to the Bill:
“A package of measures to phase out broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation by
December 2006 was a key election commitment made by the Govt. Major elements of
this commitment include the protection of “Of Concern” vegetation on freehold land
and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20-25 mega tonnes per annum.”
Administration of Vegetation Legislation
41. The administration of Vegetation Management Legislation is a bright spot for
42. Despite numerous provisions in the legislation that remove the defences of Mistake
of Fact, the Right to Silence, the Privilege against Self Incrimination and various
reversals of the Onus of Proof, huge budgets and the latest technology, DNR are
not very good at administering the Act according to law.
Some Case Examples:
Nick, Fran, Jack and Elena Van Reit – Ekari Park – Mitchell
43. On 20 October 2005, Complaints against Nick Van Reit were sworn by Peter
Robert Witheyman, a DNR investigator. On the face of the Complaint he swore that
“Knowledge of the offence came to him on 22 October 2004.”
44. Magistrate Costello, sitting at Roma, dismissed the Complaints as being out of time
and refused to extend time. DNRM appealed to the District Court.
45. The decision of the Magistrate was upheld by his Honour Judge McGill on Appeal
in the District Court and the DNRM Appeal was dismissed.
46. DNRM appealed to the Court of Appeal, where the appeal was heard by three
Judges of the Court of Appeal.
47. In a 3 Nil decision, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeal and made the
following findings, per Justice Fraser QC:
“It was submitted that the finding that the conduct of the prosecution was tardy was not
justified. In my respectful opinion the facts on which the finding was based which were
not themselves in issue, justified the finding.”
48. Despite the dismissal of the Complaints by a total of five members of the Judiciary
across three Jurisdictions, Witheyman issued the Van Reit’s with a Compliance
Notice over the subject land.
Richard and Maureen Knights – Acme Downs – Bollon
49. Complaints alleging unlawful clearing were made against Richard and Maureen in
September 2005, by Victor Craig Elliot a DNR Compliance Officer based in
50. As to the satellite imagery and evidence of Jeremy Anderson, a DNR remote
sensing officer, her Honour made the following findings:
“Jeremy Anderson, who provided the certificate, gave evidence that the remotely sensed
imagery can only provide evidence of a change in vegetation. Whether the change occurs
from natural factors, such as fire, drought, flood, storm or wind or some other act of
God, cannot be determined by comparison of remotely sensed images.”
51. Her Honour dismissed all complaints and awarded costs in amount triple the usual
amount and noted that:
“No order that I can make today can properly compensate, really, Mr Knights, because
he has been put to a huge expense in defending himself in these proceedings.”
52. Chastened not, by the decision of the Magistrate and the findings of fact made by
her, Elliot appealed to the District Court and Richard and Maureen Knights bore the
costs of preparation for the Appeal.
53. The Appeal was set down for hearing on a Monday. On the Friday prior, DNRM
withdrew the Appeal.
Scott and Anne Simpson – Tara - Hebel
54. On 27 October 2005, Peter Robert Witheyman swore Complaints against Scott
Simpson, alleging unlawful clearing on Freehold Land, unlawful clearing on a road
reserve and growing wheat on a road reserve.
55. Her Honour Cornack SM dismissed the Complaints and made the following
The property was subject to a site inspection by Peter Witheyman and Craig
Elliot…These officers were vague in their evidence about which regional ecosystem map
they used in their investigation on the site.
Peter Witheyman agreed that there are various versions of the Regional Ecosystem Maps
which is very confusing for everyone. It was rather concerning during his evidence to
consider the emails which reported that the remotely sensed images used by the
Prosecution to prove clearing of the land did not show a very large shed which is actually
on the property. The area around the shed simply looked like pasture in the images.
A computerised set of information concerning property boundaries is used by the
Department. This is the Digital Cadastral Data Base (DCDB). Linda Lawrence moved
the DCDB approximately 100 metres to the southwest for the purpose of assessing the
area of alleged clearing on the roads reserve. She did this only for the purposes of the
prosecution. The permanent records of the department were not also altered.
56. Her Honour also found that prior to April 2004; the intention of Parliament was to
protect by legislation only “Remnant Endangered” RE’s.
57. Costs were awarded to Scott and Anne against DNRM again at triple the usual
amount, given the unusual circumstances of the case and the conduct of the
prosecution by DNR.
58. Between the first three days and the last day of hearing and prior to the decision of
the Magistrate dismissing the Complaints, Witheyman gave Scott and Anne a
Compliance Notice over the area subject to the charges. This Notice has only now
been withdrawn by DNRM.
59. DNRM appealed this decision to the District Court. On 20 March 2009, Judge
Botting QC dismissed the Appeal. His Honour made the following finding in respect
of the question of law:
 “In my view, I should accept the respondent’s (Scott’s) submission that, on its
proper construction, at the time of the offence alleged against the Respondent, regional
ecosystems other than Remnant Endangered Regional Ecosystems were not intended to
be protected by the two Acts.
60. Witheyman has filed an Application for leave to Appeal to the Court of Appeal. This
appeal is yet to be heard.
Compliance Notices - Bob Wild – Whyenbirra – Bollon
61. Upon a reasonable belief that an offence has been committed, DNR can give a
landowner a Compliance Notice. There is no need for a trial or a finding of guilt by
62. Prior to the commencement of the VMA, Bob Wild inspected a property called
Whyenbirra, near Bollon, with a view to purchase.
63. He had with him some very rudimentary hand drawn vegetation maps, provided by
DNR. He formed a view that the maps did not accurately reflect the vegetation on
64. He called in DNR to verify the map. Two DNR officers inspected the block and
formed a view that the map was in error and told Bob that they would pass on the
information to the EPA in order that the map be updated and amended. This they
65. Bob bought Whyenbirra, cleared some of the land, was subsequently prosecuted
and faced with the cost of defending the prosecution, pleaded guilty and was fined.
He was then issued with a Compliance Notice, which he appealed and was
granted an Order of Stay by the Court.
66. Following the Order of the Court that the Notice be stayed, the Director General of
DNR, Scott Spencer, encumbered the title to Whyenbirra with the Notice.
67. This encumbrance serves two purposes; to alert prospective purchasers of the
existence of the Notice and to devalue the land. The land was subsequently sold
with the encumbrance on it.
68. The Notice was appealed on 12 grounds of invalidity, 1 ground is enough. Her
Honour found 19 grounds, which is why her Honour is a Magistrate and one is
69. In upholding the Appeal against the decision to give the Notice, her Honour found
“confusing, unclear, uncertain, vague and impossible to comply with..
70. At the same time the Appeal against the Notice was heard, Bob Wild brought an
Application for Punishment of Contempt against Director General of DNR, Scott
Spencer, arguing that placing an encumbrance on the freehold title after the Court
had ordered a stay, was in Contempt of Court.
71. In defending the contempt application, it was submitted by the Director General
that the Court did not have the power to prevent him doing as he did and in any
event he was only following instructions from departmental officers.
72. The Director General was found in Contempt of Court, ordered to remove the
encumbrance on the freehold title and ordered to pay almost $50,000 in costs for
the Contempt Application and the Compliance Notice Appeal and ordered to
apologise to the Court and to Bob Wild.
73. Whilst the apology to the Court was swift, the apology to Bob Wild did not come
until some time later, as did the costs, in the shadow of the election. That matter is
now at an end.
The Vegetation Management (Regrowth Clearing Moratorium) Act 2009
74. On 15 March 2009, six days before the recent election, the Premier announced
that, if re elected, her Govt would ban the clearing of “Endangered Regrowth” or
“Non Remnant Endangered” vegetation.
75. At that time, such a category of vegetation did not exist, but such things can be
quickly invented these days, given a pseudo-scientific gloss, blame is apportioned,
the issue is labelled as a crisis affecting Biodiversity, the Reef and Global
Warming, coupled with a solution and shovelled at the electorate via a compliant
and unquestioning media.
76. For over a decade the electorate has been told that clearing destroys ecosystems.
Once cleared, they cannot recover and are lost for future generations.
77. The counter argument posits that some of this vegetation will continually grow
back and will, like prickly pear, keep marching on until they dominate the
78. Unfortunately, this argument was ignored early on by the Government. Even more
unfortunately they have now taken it up, such that from the dozer and chain, the
blade plough and the stick rake, Remarkably Resilient Endangered Non Remnant
Vegetation emerges from the ashes and due to its obvious fragility, must be
79. The Regrowth Moratorium Bill was introduced into Parliament on 22 April 2009
and was passed the next day as an “Urgent Bill.”
80. In his Second Reading Speech (page 61 Hansard 22 April 2009), Minister
Robertson noted that:
“the 2004 legislation to ban clearing of Non Remnant Vegetation had delivered the
single largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions ever in Australia and it set the
framework for the delivery to the then Howard Government a 20-25 megaton
reduction in the carbon emissions and the ability to claim that Australia had met its
international obligations outlined in the Kyoto protocol.
“During the recent election campaign, labor committed to reducing the level of
damaging pesticides and sediments flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. It is proposed to
achieve this initially restricting a combination of damaging farm practices such as
overgrazing, tree clearing along creeks and excessive use of fertilizers.”
“However, the continuing high rate of clearing of endangered regrowth is a threat to
biodiversity and allows for the continued release of significant levels of greenhouse gas
“There are two reasons why retrospectivity is justified in this Bill. The first reason is
that it is accepted that retrospectivity is justified where the interests of the public as a
whole outweigh the interests of an individual.”
81. In debate on the Bill, the Opposition made much of the Bill being a payoff to the
Greens for preferencing Labor in the election. This was denied by the
Government, who maintained that their motives, being the protection of the Reef
and reduction in Greenhouse Gasses were pure and holy.
82. The Moratorium Act removes the right of a citizen to Judicial Review or Appeal to
any Court and removes the right to compensation.
83. It takes control of 1 million hectares of the States most productive private property,
worth about $2 billion, without compensation.
84. Urban Land is exempt, not surprisingly as halting of clearing in urban areas would
have a significant effect on the price of residential land in the state.
85. Mining is exempt; you can still flatten a mine site, so long as you promise to put it
right when the hole is empty.
There is much more to Come
86. There is more to come, much more if you are on coastal land. The Government
intends to control grazing, crop production and agronomy on coastal lands.
87. Instead of seeking advice from the local DPI agronomist, you will be seeking
88. In time and in possibly a very short time, the Government will completely regulate
agricultural production and land use in this State, removing production decisions
from farm business owners and vesting them in the State.
89. The excuses are: Global Warming, Saving the Reef, Saving Biodiversity, and
Saving the Murray Darling.
90. They haven’t even started on Saving Lake Eyre yet which will provide an excuse
for the taking of all manner of property rights from Leaseholders in the far west ofthe State at the time of lease renewal. Expect the Wild Rivers Act to be deployed
in Western Queensland to the same effect that it has been used in Cape York.91. The combination of the Wild Rivers Act and the Delbessie Agreement will be used
to devastating and long lasting political effect by the Greens and the Bligh
92. It is highly likely that the State Government will decline to renew expiring Water
Licences on some river systems and / or ban some crops that it has demonised or
by regulation make the production of some crops non viable from and agronomic
or economic perspective.
93. The Government will then be able to trade those property rights for some
perceived environmental electoral benefit, generally “saving” something, or better
still sell those rights to the Commonwealth for the common good and a bucket of
94. Restricting land use by regulation is much cheaper than acquisition and turns a
handy profit for the taker.
95. If the Commonwealth is prepared to pay $24 million for Torlaee Station at Bourke,
when the net benefit to the Murray Darling of that momentous acquisition is
apparently measured in bathtubs rather than megalitres, then given the right
motivation from the Hollowmen, answers from focus groups and opinion poll
trends they are capable of just about anything in the name of saving things and
sandbagging the Green vote.
Where Do We Go From Here
96. The simple solution is to say “change the government” and then leave that simple
solution to the opposition. Let that mythical person “someone else” do it.
97. That is easy when you say it fast, but as we all know, this is difficult, given that
you have been demonised as environmental vandals, your production systems as
unsustainable, wasteful, gas producing, cruel, immoral and planet destroying.
98. In those circumstances, the taking of your property does not excite or offend
urban voters, at least as much as a similar taking of property from them would.
99. Even if you manage to change the current Government, you cannot be sure that
the incoming Government would do things differently, even if they were elected.
100. As far as the NFF, Ag Force, the QFF, Canegrowers and any others I may have
missed, on the specific issue of Property Rights they have failed.
101. The strategy of educating the public in a gentle and benign way, while working
with the government to achieve outcomes through compromise, not only sounds
soft and weak, it has failed for a decade.
102. Why wouldn’t the Qld Government have another chew at your property? They bit
a big chunk ten years ago and nothing happened.
103. If the Agripolitical group that you belong to is not winning, that is bad enough, but
if it is not fighting, that is worse still. Make sure they start, if they don’t, take your
money somewhere else and give it a group that will at least fight and all the better
if they win.
The Green Movement
104. The Green movement are the most powerful, well financed and unquestioned
international pressure group active in the world today. Their various mantras are
chanted in magazines, radio, on television and in schools mostly unquestioned for
they are the self appointed keepers of the moral high ground.
105. In this country and in this state elections are finely balanced between Liberal and
Labor and Green preferences can sway election results.
106. In this way, they exert political influence far in excess of their electoral support.
The demand and receive payment for that support, by way of legislation that
serves to achieve their ideological ends at the expense of landholders, funding for
pet projects and people on the ground in the various public service departments.
107. The Green message must be challenged. But the challenge must be made
following intellectually rigorous analysis of the evidence. The counter message
must be coordinated, targeted and above all, if the allegations are found to be
false, those making the allegations, be they Ministers of the Crown, Public
servants, Consultants, self appointed experts, or representatives of Big Green
must be ruthlessly pursued and held to account in public.
108. It appears to me that what are termed “Peak Stakeholder Groups” are those that
the Government will consult in respect of the latest taking. The Government is
happy to do that, perhaps because these groups are recipients of significant
amounts of Government money and the conventional wisdom is that a Peak
Stakeholder Group will not bite the hand that feeds it.
The High Court
109. Since the advent of the VMA ten years ago, there have been calls for a High
Court challenge to the validity of tree clearing legislation in various states.
110. In Australia we live in a Parliamentary Democracy. The party that wins the election
takes power and makes the laws, subject to oversight by the Courts.
111. It is necessarily, very difficult for laws made by a government to be overturned by
a Court. If that were not so the process of government would be in a constant
state of anarchy with groups who did not like laws challenging them constantly.
112. My own view is that the argument that tree clearing laws are invalid is the most
difficult argument to win and an argument that you don’t need to have.
113. Justice Callinan QC, former Judge of the High Court, wrote in the Australian
Newspaper on 3 January 2008:
“It has always been the common law that the owner of freehold land owns every tree
on it. To combat the greenhouse effect, land clearing, the felling of trees for forest
timber, grazing or cultivation will in places be forbidden, all of this again in the
acknowledged and, it is said, necessary public interest.”
“It is a legitimate question: will proper compensation be available for the consequential
involuntary reduction in value to freehold owners? I rather fear it will not.”
114. But as usual the solution is not that simple. The High Court is not a wooden stake,
nor a silver bullet.
115. Take for example, Work Choices.
116. The Union movement decided that the Work choices legislation was detrimental to
the interests of their members. The Labor States mounted a challenge to the
legislation in the High Court. They lost.
117. Following the High Court loss, the Union movement then mounted a political
campaign and assisted in the defeat of the Howard Government. The Legal
morphed into the Political.
118. It is my preliminary view that PRA should be involved in an action against the
Commonwealth pursuant to s52 (31) of the Commonwealth Constitution for
compensation on just terms for the property repeatedly taken by the Queensland
Government for the repeatedly stated purpose of enabling the Commonwealth to
comply with the Kyoto Protocol.
119. Essentially, my view is that someone should put a bill in.
16120. There are a number of such actions on foot in the High Court. Spencer v TheCommonwealth was recently struck out by the Federal Court and that strike out
was appealed to the High Court. The Court has not yet delivered a decision in that
121. PRA needs to research those actions and their prospects of success, both in
respect of the actions themselves and their future benefit in the Queensland
122. This will cost money. But the risks are; either doing nothing where something
could or should be done, or spending money when nothing could or should have
123. Who is your most important ally in this fight? Its not Langbroek, or Seeney, or
Turnbull and I’m afraid it’s not even Senators Boswell or Joyce.
124. I will read some passages to you, as an example of clear thinking and straight
talking on the issues at hand.
125. In June 2006, the bloke I am talking about said this:
“We find ourselves in a position where the greens have walked away from the CYHOA
(Cape York Heads of Agreement). They no longer respect the fact that people need
economic development and a cattle industry in this region and they have been winning.
They have been winning against us hands down at the last two state elections.
They got tree clearing against you guys. They got tree clearing on DOGIT (Deed of
Grant in Trust) and Aboriginal Land. We didn’t even know that tree clearing was going
to be prohibited on Aboriginal lands in the Cape. This was offered to Greenies in
Brisbane with no consultation with us and now we have wild rivers, and I can tell you if
we continue to pick and choose and go our own ways there will be more to come.
Because politically the fact is that blackfellas do not count in the south-east and you
guys do not count for the election of a Labor Government.
We have got to wise up to the fact that when it comes to Green preferences in the
south east corner Cape York will be sold off.
The only way we can recover our position and to ensure that our futures are guaranteed
is if we make common cause again..
There has got to be a balance and it is hard. There has to be a balance between 3
interests and at the moment there is a severe imbalance. We are up against the ropes
and the Greenies are in the ascendant and they are in the ascendant because they are of
more political value in the south east of the state them we are.”
126. Then in April this year, the same bloke said this:
“If we lose this fight – if we have to live on our own land dictated by a government
that takes its orders from green groups – the whole show is lost. It is imperative that
we prevail here..
Our land is not available for the Labor Party to gift away..
In all our submissions we raised objections to this legislation and were ignored so the
government could secure the green voter support in south east Queensland.”
127. The bloke who has been saying these things is your most important ally in this
fight and that bloke is Noel Pearson, who will speak to you later today.128. The Wild Rivers Act 2005 has taken from Aboriginal Landholders in the Cape
what the VMA and the Moratorium Act has taken from you, the rights to develop
and earn a living from your most productive country.
129. There should be no doubt of the level of anger generated when your land gets
taken from you for a couple of hundred years, bits and pieces are given back,
then the best bits get taken again.
130. If it were ever in doubt that for decades the Green movement has mouthed
platitudes, apologies and catchy tunes about Aboriginal rights to land as a
cover to further their own interests and power over that land, then it is beyond
131. Why should PRA engage with the people of Cape York?
132. Because you have done it before in the CYHOA with success. Because you are
both a political minority whose rights have bee traded off to the Greens for political
power. Because Aboriginal people also play the long game and fight the big fights.
133. But finally, a word of caution. If you, as individuals or as a group decide to make
common cause with the Cape York people, then ensure you stick. If you do not,
you will be viewed with the same contempt as the Greens. And justifiably so.