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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Land Rights pioneer secures agreement to negotiate 99 year lease

An agreement has been reached with prominent land rights pioneer, Galarrwuy Yunupingu to work towards an innovative 99 year lease on NT Aboriginal Land at the community of Gunyangara (Ski Beach) in North East Arnhem Land.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, announced today that an MoU had been signed between the Australian Government and Galarrwuy Yunupingu on behalf of the Gumatj clan.

“I am very pleased to have reached agreement to work towards a 99 year lease with Mr Yunupingu’s home community,” Mr Brough said.

“A 99 year lease over Ski Beach will provide the basis for increased economic development, better services and the opportunity for home ownership.

“These long term arrangements provide a secure base for the future prosperity of Aboriginal people in remote communities and will allow us to work together to achieve the aims of the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

“The desire of the Gumatj is to work cooperatively to improve the lives and future for residents of Gunyangara and I am delighted that the Australian Government can work with them in a positive and constructive way to help them realise their goals.

“The agreement will also include provisions to protect sacred sites and significant areas.

“The MoU requires formal negotiations to commence within one month of signing, with a view to concluding negotiations within six months. I understand that the Gumatj people will be assisted in these negotiations by the Northern Land Council.”

The Minister also welcomed moves by Mr Yunupingu to establish a senior edlers’ group in the NT, drawing together respected and legitimate Aboriginal law men and women from local communities.

“It is essential that the senior elders’ group be formed by Aboriginal people themselves and not be a construct of government,” Mr Brough said.

“Ideally, it would be a body that would, in its own way, be truly representative of local Aboriginal elders in the NT. This would send a strong message to Aboriginal youth, reinforcing the importance of culture and the respect of their elders.”