Cairns News has seen at least 20 once-viable cattle properties handed over to aboriginal groups throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory in the past 20 years. If there are any viable cattle-producing properties left in 2012, they can be counted on one hand. Time has proven that indigenous groups cannot manage these ventures in any shape or form. Tribal arguments and often outright warfare, business inexperience, absolute wanton waste of resources such as machinery and vehicles, no fire management, poor land management, water supply neglect and many more dreamtime maladies make a mockery of aborigines being ‘great stewards of country.’ If any producing properties have survived the past two decades it will be due only to white management.
It should be noted the Indigenous Land Council is the main offender for using taxpayers money to fund either property purchases or ongoing running costs. When the grant money runs out the aborigines walk off. Shame on the ALP Federal Government and Minister Snowdon for perpetrating the myth of aboriginal land rights when we see such a waste of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money and thousands of deluded aborigines.
After decades of struggle, four enormous areas of Central Australia were handed back to Indigenous Traditional Owners in a ceremony at Simpsons Gap near Alice Springs.
It includes one of Australia’s most famous National Parks, the West McDonnells, that will now be leased back to the Northern Territory Government.
The Western and Central Arrente people will now jointly-manage their country that includes many famous waterholes and gorges and spans over 2500 kilometres.
A smaller area of land known as Crown Hill, and two of the Territory’s oldest pastoral leases, Loves Creek and Alcoota Stations were also handed back to Traditional Owners.
Over 50 per cent of the Northern Territory is now Aboriginal freehold land.
The handback of Alcoota Station, 100 kilometres north east of Alice Springs finalised one of the longest and most litigious land claims in the Northern Territory, despite being purchased by an Aboriginal corporation in the 1990s.
It’s estimated the claim cost tax payers over $2 million of Northern Territory taxpayers money, an amount David Ross, director of the Central Land Council (CLC) says was too much.
“The previous Northern Territory Government under the Country Liberals opposed all land claims outright.
“We went to court on many many occasions and wasted a lot of money.”
But despite the years of struggle, Peter Paul Wallace, whose family worked on Alcoota station for generations, says it was a day for celebration.
“It’s our father’s land and our great great grandfather’s land.
“So today’s a very very special day for us because we fought hard.”
There are no plans at this stage to stop running cattle on either pastoral property.
In fact Traditional Owners of Loves Creek station says it’s in their blood.
“Generations of stockman have worked on Loves Creek, all my grandfathers and great uncles have worked on there.
“So there’s no plans to destock, we are going to put our own cattle on, and run our own.
“It’s very good grazing country that’s going to provide employment for both my family and other Aboriginal people in the area.
“The world’s our oyster really.”
Loves Creek Station is located about 60 kilometres east of Alice Springs, and has a long pastoral and mining history stretching back to 1896.
About 200 cattle are currently agisted on the property by the G&C Pastoral Company.
The CLC’s David Ross says parts of the station are heavily degraded after years of overstocking.
“Like most pastoral leases throughout Central Australia that’s semi-desert country, it needs to be looked after and treated properly.
“But it’s nothing out of the ordinary.”
Executive Luke Bowen from the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association says that won’t be the only challenge for the new owners.
“Like the rest of the modern cattle industry, you need well managed, well governed businesses that have the economies of scale for them to be viable.
“So there need to be agreements in place between the Land Councils, the people, and the businesses that are actually going to be running on the land to ensure there is continuity and a balance struck between the owners aspirations for the land and the imperatives that businesses need to be viable in the long term.”
The CLC’s David Ross says they’ll provide whatever support they can to both cattle companies.
“We have expertise in land management and pastoral operations.
“So the Land Council is there to give people a hand with management and administration if that’s what they want to do.”
But whatever the challenges again, Shane Bloomfield and the families set to form the Loves Creek cattle company, sure looked the part.
“I went into a shop, and they had a sale on and I bought a heap of shirts.
“My sister had them labelled as the ‘Loves Creek Title Handback 2012’
“The girls look brilliant in red and the boys look brilliant in blue.”-ABC