TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP PRESS CONFERENCE WITH PARTIES TO THE CAPE YORK AGREEMENT, RADDISON HOTEL, CAIRNS, SUNDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 1996
Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996
Release Date: 18/02/1996
Release Type: Press Conference
Transcript ID: 9945
Document: Original Transcript (PDF 877.72 KB)
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TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MiP
PRESS CONFERENCE W) ITH PARTIES TO THE CAPE YORK AGREEMENT. RAW~ SON
HOTEL, CAIRNS, SUNDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 1996
E& OE PROOF COPY
PM: I have had a meeting today with my colleagues who are with me who-are the parties
to the Cape York Land Use Agreement. and .1 must say, I have beoti tremendously
impressed with the attitudes which have been expressed in the meeting. The
decjarations of good wi1 which people have had and, I think, the recognition that to try
to give people the benefts of the Cape and the quiet enjoyment of iffe free of
perpetual litigation, free of arguments about land use, free of conflicting pressures
over its heritage values, but rather to come together and see this as a way in which
all the parties can secure something greater for themselves and the country is the
way lo proceed.
It is the very: essence of an act of regional. reconciliation and the whole process of
reconciliation which. I think, has been mightily advanced by Mabo and the Native Title
Act. In a sense by empowering Aboriginal people and giving them legal rights over
lands for which they have traditional soiaio has meant that this has started to
move the log ) amn In some of these regions so that we can perhaps approach them
now on a regional basis.
You might know that under the Native Title Act there is a provision there for regional
agreements. What we have here is not a regional agreement as under the Native
Title Act, but a movement a long way towards one with the land use agreement within
which the interests of the pastoralists represented here by the Cattlemen's' Union, the
Aboriginal people by the Cape Yorki Land Council and the ATSIC Regional Council
and also by, of course, the conservation foundation and The Wilderness Society in
terms of the w~ orld heritage values.-it offers us a very uplifting opportunity to actually
see the Cape being developed on a sustainable basis, operated on a sustainable
basis where the heritage values are protected and where we have a secure pastoral
industry. but one which itself operates in a way which is harmonious with the
aspirations of Aboriginal people on the Cape.
This is the very essence of what the Commonwealth Government has sought to do
with the recnciliation process and with the Native Title Act and also with those other
policies such as Landcare land use programs such as Landcare and the Rural
Adjustment Scheme which we have introduced as more general programs which will
aiso have application on the Cape. Looking at property planning, whole of farm
management sustainable agriculture and then later if we are to head towards 8 full
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regional agreement whiere we would, at that point need to inrvolve the State of
Queensland we* can took then at the proper resourting of the area in terms of
sewerage, environmental health issues, roas, housing, et cetera.
For the moment. -I think this is if you like, a cofltfion of very significant concessions
which have been made to accommodate each of the parties aspirations and I am
very happy to Support the agreement and we will jupport the agreement on the basis
of an assessme. nt of the Worid Heritage values ' and establsh a fund of $ 40 million
over four years which, of course, we have provided funding for In the Labor ParIs
funding arrangements for the ensuing Parliament But it will be $ 40 million in a fund
for over four years for the non-compulsor acquisifon of high conservation value
pastoral hoidings and alao using part of the fund to support sustainable management.
Theme is no one " uhortty that can speak for this region. There is no one group and It
we are to reafise its great heritage potential and underline its sustanablity, at the
same time provide for the more adequate enjoyment and use of the land by
Aboriginail people then this I'm sure, is the way to go and I would like to take the
opportunfity of very sincerely congratulating the parties on this very great initiative. It
is an -absolute model of reconciition of differences and advancement of a common
interest and I hope it can be a model to be used -further in Australia and hopefully, at
some point~ move down the road of a full regional agreement under the Native Title
* Act Perhaps I could also say with the tourism assets in this region that ame also so
manifest and with the World Heritage area the Daintree that which the Government
has already undertken in funding the Daintree and World Heritage area back in the
1980s and now committing another, with the State of Queensland, $ 22 million to
buying back the properties in the hoie-ir-the-heart. It rually means from Mo~ man to
the top of Cape York we can onceive of an area where with somne recognition of
everyone's irnterests, Gupport for the heritage values, understanding the importance
of sustabity and some financWa support from the Commonwealth through this and
with more generaffy fta other Landceare programs we can conceive an area whc very
few courdries would ever have the opportunity of ever being able to consider for the
ntational heritage of their country as wse can this for Australia.
I am very happy to finish my remarks there. I am not sure whether my colleagues
would likte to add. to them, If they do they are welcom, otherwise I am happy as 1 am
sure they are, to take questions.
J: Mr Keating, do you think that this process implicitly recognises that resolution of
Native Tis issues through the tribunal process is flawed, that it isn't working?
PM: No, no, rnotatell-It isjutttevenwhen UWyare wrng tey are going to take
time and even if they take time there is going to be a legal process which is not
necessxarily going to suit all of the parties. Wheres what is being offered here is a
process which is one where all of the parties interests are beinmg met and this is the
beat way to advance it That is why in the Native Title Artwedcid conceive of the
notion of regional agreements. This Is a regional land use agreement, but part of that
land use agreement wl go to resolution of some of the native title issues which win
more adequately and expeditiously resolve some if the outstanding issues of which,
of course, on the Cape there are many.
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J: Do you think there is a better way forward than relying on the native title
PM: No. AIis just a case of both because in some places such agreements wi" not be
entered. I mean, such good-wil will not be shown where it can't be conceived that
interests can be met and they will be resolved by the proces of the Native Tide Act.
Part of the aft, ~ ton, the claity and strength of the Native Tifte Act is to let people
know that Aboriginal people do have rights aod they are going to need to be
accmmodted and to bring people to this sort o'a, process.
J. How do you expec the Stale Government to regad to this and how important is their
ag reemeit to it?
PM: I don't know. I don't know wtat a Borbidge governments, attitude would be to this. I
think we will consult wfth them over the agreement arnd plans for World Herltage
asessmenit and nomination, we wfi do that. I would like to think that like the Goss
government they will recognise. the considerable regional benefits for people here on
the Cape. In the end, it is not simply about the heritage vakues, but rather about the
communities on the Cape and that is important to. us and I should imagine it would be
important to the Borbidge government too. BuA in the end, in respect of these issues
the ultimate determinants of the issues here are the parties because we are not
seeking from the Borbidge government a full reqional Agreement. Not at this point
J: Mr Howard has announced this morning that not only will he commit up to $ 40 rrullion
to protevting the high conservation areas of the Cape, but he will m~ so, engage in
discussion with Bob Borbidge and the Federal and Queensland Coalitons to work
together, to best implement the protection of these regions. * Has he stolen your
thunder and would he be better equipped to gain agreement from a Queensland
PM. He doesn't befieve in these issues, you know that. He has discmvered the
er-vronmerlt about two weeks ago. I mean, the Natie Title Act, his party said was a
' day of shame' when we passed iL It is the strength of the Native Title Act and also
our inter" s in the World Herftage areas from the -1980s onwards and our continuing
inrin theCape, think, whic providsao to fnanarement ofthis kind.
It is not just money it i3 commitment Mr Howard has neither the money nor the
commitment because he has said, apparently, that any funding of Cape York would
be dependent on the sate of Teistre and he knows that is not going to happen. It is
not going to proceed. He will not get the sale a( Telecom through the Senate.
Thefefvrehe has no funding for Ktand a3Mr Beazley made carlast week. he has a
$ 3 billion deflency in the funding he has already provided. So, he can afford to do
none of the things he is saying he will do.
J: Mr Kesting, would you not proceed with World Heritage nomination without the
agreement of the State government?
PM: I wouid firstly, raRther than jump at that, baulk at that particular propoaition, pay the
State goverme~ nt the courtesy, as I would any State governmeMt of seeking to
interest them in these values, If are tatking about en area whiich~ has the potential
of a World Heritage listing we are talking about something very unique and you have
got to be a very strange government not to be interested in somethin like that. I
qnvfImothat thay wuni IdheV
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J: unnecessary precondition though for proceeding?
PM: I would crtainly, beore I did anything else, have a very real and meaningful
discussion with the Borbidge government about ita
J: Does this agreement need to have legislative backing either at the State or Federal
level and what are the implications on both fronts?
PM: It would need, obviousty, an appropriation from the Commonwealth and it would be
for these World Heritage and management purposes here on the Cape. We would
make that clear because of its unique character and because what the parties have
done here is. I think. unique. We would propose to both houses of Parfiament an
appropriation to fund the agreement because the agreement is something in the
Commonwealth's imterest, in the nation's interest and worthy of that funding.
J: What agency. Mr Keating, do you im-egine managing the $ 40 milion fund and
carrying out the environ mental assessment?
PM: That is somnething we would need to think about. As you know we already have a
World Heritage Admini~ stration here Wert Tropics Adminiatrwtion " e ame speaking
here not of Wet Tropics, but we are spealing of sornethIng simiar. So, we would
need to think about that, whether Aist under the Department of the Environment or to
what edent we engage the Deparment of Primary Industries and Energy because of
a very large component of this Is the sustainability of pastoral practices and the
patoral industry, the development and growth of the pastoral industry on the Cape.
J: You were saying that there would be non compulsory acquiltn, but if theme was an
area of particularly high conservation value, potentially World Heritage value, do you
think there is a case for compulsory acquisition?
PM: It depends on whiethier they have been managed sustains* l. No one is going to cit
the land off, excise it off and floatit out to sea. ltI ging tobe threandIt is just a
matte of whether It is being managed sustainably. Therefore, I just don't thnk the
notion of compulion is appropriate here, It is a huge area of Australia and it can only
really be preserved if all the parties are interested in at. There is no government
authortty, no one authority can do this, It has got to be done by the people who live
there. Mr Diowney,-does the comments made by the Prime Minister today, bring the ACF
firmly boa in behind the Labor Patty, pertirularty in light of the commitments of Mr
Howard also seems to have made..
JO: That might be a point for me to make a couple of introductory comments if you don't
mind and I'll get to that question. About 10 minutes ago, I don't know wther people
are aware, but today is adluaty the highest tie in North Queenisland and it ooure
at 10: 30amn and ( think there are parallels we can* draw and say that the fide has also
turned for one of Austraba's natural and cultural areas and that is Cape Yorkc
Peninsula. In an age, as I have said before, when so many of this countys wild plae have
hman Ine anoq qwrfVarat itne4. a tho efPctrtinn thsat 1% 4 rnm u&* k w*, n' 0m Zi014
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industia~ tion ' and in an age where 70 per cent of the country is in some form of
degradation and in an age where those greet wild p~ aces that haven't been protected
in the last deae and are not protected in the* no~ decada will almost certainly be
lost. Australians have stood up and said they want their icn 2reas protected. Over
the last decade we have had the big ones Kakadu, the Wet Tropics and the
Dainre, Frasr Island, the western forests of Tasmania and let's make no mistake
about it, Cape York Peninsula is also one of those big ones that ranks up there with
those. Whether it is because Cape York Peninsula contains one fift of Austrea's rain forest
including the largest low land tropical rain forest left in the country, whether it is
because it contains and significant vast amounts of old growth forest. tropical
savanna woodland that is probably the largest outside of Africa in the world, whiether
it is because ft contains the largest and richest and most diverse wetlands and
mangrove com munities in this county, 60 per . cent of Australia's butterflies. 80 per
cent of our orchard species, one pastoral lease on Cape York Peninsula contains a
quarter of all Austratlian frogs, all those natural values Cumulatively can only draw one
conclusion. That Cape York is, in fact, one of our great icon natural areas.
For that reason, today's announcement is a momentous occson. It does rank up
there with~ the big ones, the Kakedu the Wet Tropics and the Dahinre and the Fraser
island. I guess what I would like to say in conclusion and this drws me to your question, I'd
like to put out a call as the Executive Director of the Australian Conservation
Foundiation to al people in the conservation movement, to other groups and
environmerntaly. conscious voters out there in the community to get behind what will
be one of Australias greatest conservation achievements and that is the protection of
the nature and culture of Cape York Peninsula.
At the mwment, at least on one side of politics, I have seen the words, from the Prime
Minister as to what the ALP is prepared to commit Itseff to. I haven't seen the
Coalitions words, but what I would say is that there is one issue that is not a small
mater, andthati io u aa elTestato raisethe dough to pay for what yousay
you are going to do, then there is no way in my investigations over the last week and
a half and discussions with the Democrats, the Australian Greens and the Western
Australian Greens, that Teistra is gOng to be sold in the next term of the Parliament.
it is just not going to happen. This has to call into question the ability of the Coalition
to fund not only the $ 1.1 billion, by our calculations there Is $ 993 million, that won't
happen when Telstra isn't sold that it also means that the funding, I think, at this point
unless. there is a dramatic turn in the next week and a half of the protection of one of
Australia's great natural and cultural areas woon't happen either.
So, in condluding and I hope that has answered your question. In conclusion I would
like to say agpin that I am putting a call out to anl environmentally consckous people in
the community and the conservation movement to get right behind what will be one of
Australia's greatest conservation achievements
J: Mr Downey, when Mr Howard announced hMs policy a couple of wveeks ago in the
Dandenong you were standing in front of a microphone saying that the Coalition
policy was fantastic and that it puts both parties on equal footing. If in fadt Mr Howard
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has offered a similar amount of monery for a Cape York agreement. where are you
JD: On the day that Mr Howard announced his policy I said three things. I can't help it ly
people just want to report one of the three, but the three were that there was some
excellence In the content of the poliy, there was significant uncrtinty as to whether
it could ever be delivered because of the Jink with Telstra and there was
disappointmnent -The disappointment being therabandonment of the Three Mines
Uranium policy which wigt almost cettainly mnean a big hole, in the middle of Kakadu
Now, those three things were made very clear on the day. The next day we wrote to
Mr Howard expressing our serious concern about the ink with Teistra and the
uncattainty thiat that meant for the funding of his environment package, he hasn't
withdrawn that As Isay f there is o change in the next two weekstenour view s
that his environment package can't be defrered.*
J: So therefore, you are still holding out to the last minute to decide where your
allegiance will fie?
JD: What Ilil say isthat flt of all, Idon't got avote# asto the position of the ACF in the
election. that is up to my 37 eledted councllors. They will be holding a ballot on
Wednesday and we will make an announcement as to our position in the eleio on
Thursday. At the moment I can say without pre-empting that announcement that as
we stand here there is at least three major differences between the major perties as
we go into this assessment process that we will complete in the next three clays.
They are certainty for the protecton of one of Australia's great natural and cultural
areas ie Cape York Peninsula, the issue of the: abandonrnerit of the Three Mines
Uranium Policy which wa3 confirmed yesterday with the Coalition's release of their
Energy and Resources Policy and if you believe ERA Ltd that means a big hole in the
middle of Kakadu National Park and the undeierablity of the Coafition's environment
package while it stays linked to Teistra. Unless there is a change In the next week,
that is the basis upon which we will be prooedng up to our announcement on
J: Mr Downey, is Cape York in your view the d~ tning environmental issue of this
JO: I would have to say that the field has been narrowed down a fair bit. Look, I really
-think tiat we made it clear 12 months ago that Cape York Peninsula waS going to be
a priority of ours in the lead up to the election. On behalf of the Australian
Conservationi Foundation it has been a campaign that has at least been running for
years and moved through mining at Shellboume Bay to the proposed space
station in the late 1980s with The Wilderness Society, Starcke and Silver Plains etc,
the land use strategy. It has been a long campaign. And for that reason, anid
coupled with its significant heritage values, it is definitely a priority.
As the field has got narroed down and as we have got into the eled~ ion, I think, from
the ACF's perspective it has emerged as the major priority. But. let's not forget a big
hole in the middle of Kakadu National Park i3 ilso a priority and whether or not
$ 993 million of a Party's policies can acually be defivered is a major issue as well.
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J1: You seemed to be saying before that you think Labor is better equipped to deliver on
Cape York, than the Uiberai Party or the Caartion.
JD: Well, you see, the Coalition has got three problems, until they unhook from Telstra
they can't fund it that is number one. Number two, they have got to get it past the
Queensland National Party Federal Senators and Members, they have got to get it
past Mr Borbidge who is on the record as saying ' That World Heritage is nothing but a
disguise for a black land grab',-when referrng to Aboriginal people. And, thirdly,
Mr Howard has got to hold some pretty, I wouid suggest, meaningful disaissions with
the mining industry to be able to fund the heritage protecion in Cape York Peninsula.
For those three or four reasons, not the least of which is the funding issue, I think the
ALP is in front in terms of being able to deliver what will be a great conservation
4: You almost seem to be advocating now a vote for Labor, don't you?
JD: Well I am not advocaing a vote for Labor, I am drawing attention to the differences
between the major parties. As I say, our announcement as to the elcto will be
trade on Thursday, I don't get a vote, there are 37 other people who do. But I know
weighing heavily in their minds, from discussions over the Last couple of days. the
three things I have mentiooed Te~ sre, uranium, and Cape York are weighing
heavily in their thin king.
J: The Prime Minister was just sayin that Atis a big step forward. How far are we? Are
we sort of half way there, a quarter of the way there? Is it achieving what soft of
goals you would eventualy like to achieve? It is a long process. Obviously, these
talks started in 1994
JD: Well the argy bargy over Cape York. really, in terms of land use decisio making, has
probably been going on for 20 years. To implement the agreemett I mean, therm are
a number of steps that have to be done the funding is over four years. I think that is
a reasonable amnount of time to progress the agreement, it is a reasonable amnount of
time to get the pastoral Industry seurity on a sustainatle basis, to get te Woold
Heritage assessments done, to get the nomigation in accss agreements for
Aboriginal people. sorted out. You know, we do ha ve some time to go.
This is a significant agreement and I am certainty, from the ACF's perspectie not
going to suggest we rush the whole thing and got It over and done with in so: months.
But, you know, we can spend a bit of time.
J: What is the rough timnetable? Are you looking at, say, by 2000 and have the issues of
Cape York resolved?
JD; Look, I think, in the next term of the Parliamnent wouid be a fair timeframne, over the
next three years.' I mean we are going to continue our discussions with Aboriginal
fraditional owners and the Catiernen's Union. World Heritage assessments arm not
small matters in themselves again. I rnean the World Heritage Bureau knocks back
morm listings than wh~ at it accepts at the momenta. nd it has got to be done property
and it has to be rigorous and that takes a bit of time.
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J: I don't know if it is potsible. but can the Prime Minster respond to that as well? Does
he expect it to be done in the term of the next Parliament?
PM: The World Herftage risting. do you mean?
J: To have the issues finalised yes, the nomination?
PMV: Oh, I think. that is a reasonable aspiraton. -As Jim said, this is a matter which has
drawn owtain peoples attention now over a couple of decades and there has been
some substantial progress already been made. The other thing is, I( think, larnd care
and suxtainable land use has become, you know, so broadly accepted now flowing
from the Landcare program and the interests of people in agriculture in Australia that
we are not dealing with the same sort of issues, I think, we were deal'ing with half a
dozen years ago.
In other words, I think, people now believe sustainability [ s important, it is an objective
in itself, and Nf it is sustainable then proper land use management means that any
heritae task becomes that much more achiSvable. And dt you have got agruement
to do this you know, not just agreement, not just somne resigned agreement, but an
actual w~ firngnes. s to do this and to be party to an arrangement like this I think, then it
makes a very great difference about how quickly you can actually get these
utrucu458 into place.
J: Can I ask Noel Pearson a question? This agreement involved a lot of trust building
between all the parties. Do you think the approach taken hems Is applicable in, say,
WA and the NT where sorme of the disputes between parties have perhaps been
even mome bitter there than they have been here?
NP: Yes. . Iwant tosay thatIhave got agretdeal ofoptimism about thsgeementand
about the direction, I think, we are leading the country in. When we passed the
Native Title Act in late 1993, folowing the High Court's decision on, Mabo, I thought
this is areybgopportun havnCaeYork e w rk hard. We havesa big
opportunity, we have an apparatus in place that provides for claims to the National
Nativ Title Tribunal and for a process of regional agreement if we can get the major
players to come to common positions.
So we had thi apparatus put in place in late 1993 that Provided so much promise, so
much opportunity, so much cause for optimism. But I have got to say we are not
Ongfl to capitallse on those opportunities and possibilities until the parties on the
ground State Governments, regional Governments, Local Governments, industry
organizations, loby groups, and Aboriginal people are prepared to put the wor pu. t
the elbows the wheel, to make these opportunities materialise.
And the Prime Minister said to me some timne ago,. that you know you are gOng to get
agreement vrith these people if you frorit them, and you talk to them, and you come to
compromises with them because that is the framework of the legislation that has
been put in place.
So I gave that route a try because we had a iigation grinding on in the courts with the
Wick action and I gave the option of getting agreement with the Cattlemen's Union
and the conservation groups, I gave that option a try, and I fronted at Musgrave a
gmaiI rdftlp ntq$ nn in thp ri& n Lf r~ f ~ rm PeriinattIn in tho m~ 1xrtf R fho
. PM PRESS OFFICEQ018
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turmoil after th Qlueensland Government's -announcement of the East Coast
conservation zone, a great deal of anxiety, confusion, anger, frustration, and on the
Pori oi pasoralist and Abio mi-ai ' eo* i And fiew jio Mus~ rave and i rernember
the charter ffying around and there was one hundred Toyotas parked out the front.
And I was about the only Aboriginal person in that gathering.
And by the end of -that meeting we had an unequivcl resolution from the
Cattlemen's Union that we ' wre going to settle these things by negotiation. We were
going to settle fthse things by negotiation founded on the principlee that the
Cattlemen's Union had set out a year earlier. Those piinoiples were about mutual
securtty, mutual benefit and mutual guarantee of rffesyle and culture.
And we got Rick Farley involved, and we worked -over a two to three month period to
put together the Heads of Agreemoent that we are now all conmitted to.
I have gotto syttaksa great dea ofwork, ittakes agreat dealf goowl1 and I
am just very pleased that the ldnd of promise and fah and optimism I had about the
Mabo decision and about the enactment of the Native Title Legislation, has yielded
fruit positive fruit in Far North Queensland. And it is fruit that we, as organisations,
on the ground are determined to hold, notwithstanding an of the politcal vagaries.
I have got to say that It is the route of agreement, rather than litigation is just one of
the two routes available under the Native Tie apparatus. We now need to go
through the next step of forrmalising agreements between lease holders and
traditional owners for accss arrangements and for the settlement of these issues
relating to Native Titie.
Two weeks ago, ithere was a High Court Decision in yaspedt of the Wasnyi peoples in
the Gulf a( Carpentaria where the High Court was asked by the Aboriginal dlaimants
and by the various parties to the litigation, asked' to determine the question of pastoral
leases and Native Titie. And the High Couts view wa that we have an apparatus in
the Native Title Act that provides for mediation and negotiation. An apparatus that
doesn't arbitrarily extinguish Native Title, it leaves that question for the court, to
determine. But it provide a proes of mediation and negotiation to settle these
issues. So, basicaly, the leadership of the High Court has been to you hrave an
apparatus, you have a process, go and work out those things through compromise
I use N you are going to come through litigation to the High Court. there will be
losers. if you are -going to come through litigation in the High Court, there will be
So there was a sieven-rul judgment in favour of the negotiation and compromise route
and I beleve that we have identified in this Heads of Agreement a compromise that
wil work best onf the ground In Cape York Peninsula, that provides security for John
Purceirs mob, for my mob and also secures the national interest in conseration
So. I think, that I suppose not having participated In the debate down sot and
over the past two years, I have been buried up heme tyng to work on this agreement
am a bit dismayed about the cynidsm that seems to pervade the country, about the
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real possibilities that lie within our grasp, the real potentials and possibilities that lie
within our grasp.
And I have got to say that those possibilities .0aim
prelared to butt heads and come to corn prrni~ c* arid, i thiink, U-ic C-Opc York
agrevitr coming around a torturous route to answer your question I think this
agreement can be a model for other areas in. the country. Bt one of the great
impediments to reaching the stage where we have reached, is the political reluctance
of regional Governments.
I mean had we had intervention at the Stete Government level, we would never have
reached the stage we have reached now. We have come to this point because for
commercial, social, cultural reasons, just the, relationship with people who Wie in
Cowan, blein and white people who have to live with each other in Cooktowri. Those
are the imperatives that have led to us coming to this compromise and Kf we had
listened to the machintions and advice of people living in Brisbane, then I don't think
we would have reached this mzge.
And, I think, that it does involve leaerhip, it does involve leadership from the
Aborlglnsai community, from the pstoral industry community, end importantly, I think.
from the conservation movement We have taught the conservationists something
about coming to compromise because we are not going to secure a comprehensive
conservation and sustainble development reguie for the Peninsula unbi we
understand. in the rest of Australia, that these things need to be done in cooperation
with the land owners and the people who live in the region.
So I am extrem* l pleased to see that the country and I could never have imagined
this could have been the case two or three years ago, and I am very pleased that
here in Far Nofth Queensland notwithstanding anything that might happen outside
of the region that we have reached this state -of affairs with the Cattlemen's Union,
The Wilernes Society' and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
I think that issues in the Kinberleys in Western Australia, etsewhere in Queensland.
that we provife at an example of the way to settle these land use questkons.
Isu~ ppose the issue that I am most concerned about in terms of the implementation of
this agreem ent, relate to two questions. One is, what will happen with mining in a few
key regions in Cape York Peninsula. They are really key questionts of great concern
to the Aboriginal community.
Mining at Shellboumne Bay, in particular, is an Issue of great concern. We would be
concerned that, all politial parties commit themnselves to rullng out minoing on
Secondly, the other question we ae very concerned about 13 the arbitrary wthoWlee
extinguishment of Native Title in pastoral leases. We believe that the question of
Native Title in pastoral looses can and should be addressed as the High Court said at
could be through the apparatus of the Native Trtle Act, through mediation and
negotiation. I am extremely coincered by comments from Richard Court that there is a Coaliton
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concerned about Mr ichers recent statements that seem to confirm the existence
of this bidden agenda.
I can tell you that the Catflemen showed the fakh in Cape York Peninsula that we can
settle this question of Native Title through negotiation and we accepted tha good
faith. And it was an agreement that came to pas notwithstanding the legal change
and the political changes. Like one week, we had a negative decision from Juctice
Drummond this was about three Yweeks, ago. -Justice Drummond said, There is no
Native Title in pastoral leases'. And I thought, oh, shit. John Purcell is going to walk
away from this agreemnent now. He has got what he wants. he is gone. Butno, he
said, ' We are sticking by the termis of this agreement.
The next week, the High Court ruled that the whole question is still afive. The whole
question of Native Title and pastoral leases was still allve. So I immediately wrote to
John and said, listen, we are sticking to the terms of this agreement, there is no kind
of grabbing ours and running. And I have got to say thet I want to publy commit
myself to sticking by the terms of this agreement, notwithstanding the legal and
political changes that might happen. Thank you.
J lIam just wondering 9f 1culd ask you Mr Purcell hoW does tlIs oompare with the
regional proposal of the Goes Government that involved 11 properties? Is this a
wider thing now, are there more properties involved and will this make the task more
compficated, can you get their agreement? 7
JP: Yes, just to answe r your question. Obviusly, the East Coast wlderness, as proposed
by Premier Goss prior to the election on 15 July, is somnething that we couldn't come
to agreement amongst the parties, it was set " sdo-But wm have been able to
resolve to our sabtiadion the situetion as far as the people we repreit and the
Department of the Environment, Herftae, and Lands. Mu what the attitude of the
incom ing Government is on that zone I don't know.
Burt I guess in common with others, I would like to address the broader question
about this agreement. The firvt thing I would say is we~ are not about party polfdcs, we
aro-not about saying this side is better than the other side we are about an outcome
for the people within the Cape York Peninsula area.
And as Noel Pearson has said, we have achieved by the signing of this Heads of
Agreement a situation that spells out the principles of the pastoralists, of the
Aboriginal communities, and of the environmentalists, that is above poitics and is
above the decision of the High Court, the Federal Court, or any other court of appeal.
The catle industry in Cape York Peninsula is currentty in a state of declne. The
signing of this agreement, in my view. brings a much brighter fute for the cattle
industry. What we have* got to reconise in this country is that we have got to
genierate export income and we have got to pay our bill internatinally and,
therefore, vm have got to have export earning capacity.
Cape York Peninsula with its d~ ose proximity to South East Asia olfers that to the
cattle industry and if we can exercise live cattl trade through the port at Weipa. that
is crtainly one way to go, and that is supplemented by the increase in consumption
of manufactured and proesed beef out of this country.
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The other thing I would rike to say. probabl the most contentious issue that we have
had to face in this whole debate, is the question of World Heritage. World Heritage, in
my view, has a place but the stments that have been made Irrespnalbty by some
peopthattewhoe ofe apewasing tobe locked upand put under Word
Heritage is just so much rot.
The process of ahieving registration of World Heritage, has to go through a torturous
program. -There are areas. of significant conservartion values In the.. Cape. we
recognise that, and they should be protected. I think you have also got to realise that
there is a very firmn commitmient in the Heads of Agrerement that outlines that World
Heritage itseff does not necessarily mean the exclusion of the livestock industry. In
our notes accmpanyig that Heeds of Agreement, multiple land use is crty speft
out. Now just in condlusion, I think, that what this has done is brought together parties with
diverging views, we have done it in a very short period of time, whereas the courts
haven't been able to decide it, whereas the pliticins :. with all due raspedt have not
also been eble to-tie ittogether, I thinkthat wat whav done is set in place a
principle that will have application in other areas: lB. A the factors in other arees are
going to be very. different than that in Cape York. u
The Heads of Agreement thst we have come to in [ Cape York Peninsula, address the
various problems and challenges that we have got tq fae in the Cape and, I think.
that all of the signatories have said here today that we are all clearly going to stick
that agreemeit and the safeguards for all of the parties are built in.
And I would just, again, like to put on recrd the fedt that all of us enitered theme
discussions in good-faith and with trust In spite of mischief from outside sources that
tried to divie tesignatodes, we are rock solid on what we have signed and there is
a lot of mrischief based on misunderstanding and I hope that we can get the message
out to people that thssnot about Wcing up the Cape, itis notabout ocking out the
beef cate industry. But, rather, it is something that we have put together for the wvelbeing
of the people in the Cape and tha is our bottom fine and we are happy to party
to the agreemient:
4: Mr Purcel, would you agree with Mr Pearson th; t this could be a model for other
areas of Australia?
JP: Yes, I do. But I would again agree vrith Noei that particular circumstances in the
Cape Wil probably differ to cirumstances that exist in the Gulf region of Queensland,
or in, the Kimberteys. There are differenit players, there are different attitudes and
there wre also differenit problems.
J: Mr Keating, can I just ask you a question on another subject? Mr Howard has today
made an enormous pith for families with a $ 1 billoi tax bonus for families. Can
Labor match this?.
PM: Well that is cynical and unacrpulous because he is happy to play a confidence trick
on Australian families with promises he knows he can't possibl fun~ d. He has no
hope of ever delivering and to be doing this at this point in his politicatl career, in
desperation to try and win an elecion, says nothing I think about the integrity of him
rnr $ ha I O) tamI Pat~ v
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J: So is this a lest minute ditch by him to grab the family vote?
PM: Yes, well it is a very late policy speech adkiti; eYt rh.-last minute ditch around
a cynical ploy that has no chance of, ever, woming to rcality.
J: Can I just ask Mr Purcell another question? Does the Native Title Act still need
amending then to dcear up whet have been called anomalies, difficulties, with regard
to pastoral leases?
JP: My understanding is, and I am not into the politics of course, but both the
Government and the Opposition have said that the Native Tfitle does require some
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