10 May 2023

Government announces $38m war chest to buy more Cape York property

| Matt Nicholls
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Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon with Cape York Land Council chair Richie Ah Mat.

THE state government says it has a war chest to spend on land purchases in Cape York in a bid to right the wrongs of the past.

“This is about land justice,’’ Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said last week.

She said the state had allocated an extra $20 million for land purchases to be jointly managed by Traditional Owners as new national parks and Aboriginal freehold, as part of a $38.5 million package.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding followed the recent purchase by the government of Bramwell Station to link existing national parks into a one-million-hectare protection zone.

“By returning this land to traditional custodians, we can work together to conserve the significant natural and cultural treasures of Cape York,” she said.

“It will also create jobs and opportunities for locals into the future.”

Ms Scanlon said more than 3.85 million hectares of Cape York Peninsula land had been transferred to Traditional Owners by the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program.

“We share an ugly and uncomfortable history in this country. And our First Nations communities have waited for generations to have their land back.”

Ms Scanlon said an extra $38.5 million over the next four years had been allocated to continue the CYPTR Program and to manage certain Cape York lands.

“Since the Goss government, we’ve united more than one million hectares of protected areas and Aboriginal land,” she said.

But there remains about 400,000 hectares of national park and reserves and more than 200,000 hectares of other state land yet to be transferred.

“This new funding brings us ever closer to righting the wrongs of the past.”

Balkanu Cape York Development director Gerhardt Pearson said the program recognised the importance of economic development to Traditional Owners.

“Revenue is generated through activities such gravel extraction, grazing, tourism, carbon offsets contracts, and ‘fee for service’ land management activities,” Mr Pearson said.

“There are social, cultural, health and wellbeing benefits that flow from Traditional Owners owning and managing their homelands.”

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