Butchulla compensation claim withdrawn from court
AFTER three years of fighting to be compensated for the loss of native title in parts of Fraser Island, the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation has withdrawn its Federal Court claim.
BAC will now start direct negotiations with the State Government.
Colin Hardie, BAC's legal representative, said the group received a letter from the State Government indicating it was willing to engage in negotiations outside of court.
He said the group hoped to start preliminary discussions in the next few months.
BAC has reserved the right to return to court if negotiations fall through.
"They're not going to wait around for another 20 years," Mr Hardie said.
He said it was hard to put a figure on the compensation claim, but it had never been about money.
"In our view, the area affected is quite significant and the valuation will be informed by the cultural value," Mr Hardie said.
Mr Hardie said the Butchulla people hoped to have a greater say in the management of the island.
BAC secretary Christine Royan said they are seeking compensation over 436 parcels of land where native title has been fully or partially extinguished.
She said measuring the cultural loss suffered by the Butchulla people would be difficult, but the group was hoping to have the claim settled within two to three years.
"Native title hasn't given us a voice or presence on the island," she said.
"It's about measuring the cultural loss. Each group has a different cultural loss."
Ms Royan said the group hoped to resolve the situation via consultation.
A spokesman from Deputy Premier Jackie Trad's office said the state recognised that under the Native Title Act, it had a compensation liability to the native title holders.
"Queensland Treasury has advised that the Butchulla people have undertaken to authorise a new native title compensation claim later this year," he said.
"The state's position remains unchanged that it would welcome open discussions with the Butchulla people to agree on a way to progress their compensation claim."