FIFTEEN years after the first of the original native title claims was filed with the Federal Court, the Western Australian Government and the Yawuru people have reached an in-principle agreement to resolve native title and heritage issues in Broome.
The State's Attorney-General Christian Porter said the agreement will "facilitate the release of land for housing, commercial development and infrastructure, and will ensure that development in Broome can proceed unimpeded for decades to come".
Porter said Aboriginal heritage would be protected and the traditional owners properly compensated.
The Federal Court ruled that the Yawuru people held native title rights and interests in relation to Broome and surrounding areas in April 2006. As native title holders, they had the right to negotiate over future developments and to receive State Government compensation for acts affecting their native title.
Porter acknowledged that the negotiations had been extremely complex.
“Three years after the Federal Court decision, the Liberal-National Government has negotiated an agreement within its first seven months of Government,” he said.
“We are a Government which sees great value in making decisions on a range of issues which had the potential to have become stalled.
The A-G blames the previous government for failing to finalise the Native Title claims over Broome, arguing they contributed to increasing housing costs and "skewed development" in the tourist centre of the North-West.
“One of the immediate consequences of this matter not being resolved by the previous government was that land shortages for development pushed median house prices in Broome up to $653,000," he said.
The final agreement was expected to be reached in June 2009 and would include two Indigenous Land Use Agreements, which would be submitted to the National Native Title Tribunal for registration