Pilbara treaty focus on heritage, land, housing

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Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt.
Camera IconAboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt has indicated he is open to the idea of a treaty between the Pilbara’s traditional owners and the State, though work was needed to ensure it was appropriate for those calling for it.

The idea of a Pilbara-wide treaty was proposed at last week’s Yule River bush meeting, but Mr Wyatt also put other options such as language group-specific treaties on the table.

Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Simon Hawkins said a treaty with the State would address issues such as heritage, land and housing.

“It is important if you are going to have a treaty that you actually include practical steps in areas which relate to heritage and culture,” he said.

“Treaties don’t necessarily cost anything; it is legislation which protects rights and interests.”

Mr Hawkins said a treaty with the State Government would be more straightforward than with the Federal Government, as there was no need for a referendum.

Mr Wyatt said traditional owners had to agree on what they wanted out of a treay before pushing ahead with it.

”Speak to anyone and they will have a different view on what a treaty is,” he said.

”There is a way to go before people have an understanding what treaty is and what role government plays in it.”

Mr Wyatt pointed to the native title settlement with the Noongyar people as a good example of a treaty.

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