WA Govt lodges appeal against landmark native title decision

WA Attorney-General Jim McGinty has stated the State Government lodged an appeal against the recent Federal Court decision recognising native title over the Perth metropolitan area.

Mr McGinty said the State's appeal focused on the way in which Justice Murray Wilcox arrived at his decision, not the rights of the Nyoongar people to be recognised as the traditional owners of the land.

"We have got nothing to fear from native title, and the State Government recognises the Nyoongar people as the traditional owners of the south west area of Western Australia," Mr McGinty said. "We simply want guidance from the Federal Court on what the rules are to create certainty for future native title negotiations."

According to Mr McGinty, in 2002 the Yorta Yorta case, the High Court of Australia established a set of principles to guide the recognition of native title. But Justice Wilcox "did not rigorously apply" the Yorta Yorta principles in his case and this resulted in a decision which "departed significantly from established law," Mr McGinty said.

"Rules relating to rights in land, for example, must be consistent throughout the claim area, and substantially consistent since 1829, to satisfy the Yorta Yorta test, but Justice Wilcox allowed for an enormous variation in these rules," Mr McGinty said.

"Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the State Government acknowledges that Nyoongar people are the traditional owners of the South-West and we remain committed to negotiating an outcome that acknowledges this connection," he concluded.

12 October, 2006

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