Confusion reigns in the Mareeba office of the indigenous Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui.
Constituents in the Cook electorate since Ms Lui occupied her office earlier this year, have complained they cannot meet her face to face. Just who is the member?
They first have to get past her close minders, former Labor senator, Jan McLucas and former Labor candidate for Leichardt, Sharon Howes.
Both staffers guard Ms Lui jealously, and as one Labor insider put it, “…they will have to keep Cynthia wrapped in cotton wool….”
On Wednesday Ms Lui, originally from Yam Island in the Torres Strait, was engulfed in controversy when she shamelessly backed the stringent legislative amendments to the hated Vegetation Management Act in parliament which will again see Cape York Peninsula sterilised of any development.
Chairman of the indigenous Cape York Land Council Richie Ah Mat told the ABC he would fight the new laws to the bitter end and had already instructed lawyers to ascertain if the VMA breached the Native Title Act.
Unfortunately for Mr Ah Mat, the Land Council knew well before it agreed to back the Labor Party at the state election, these new laws would be enacted.
A life member of the ALP who asked to remain anonymous, was critical of the anti-clearing laws which he said would again stop any development of vast Aboriginal freehold land holdings on the Cape.
“Richie is just playing the game. He knew this was coming but they backed Cynthia Lui at the election, doing other deals with the Labor Party which will be of great benefit to members of the Land Council,” the disgruntled life member claimed.
“The Land Council was told by the government if they don’t support them at the election they will simply turn off the money.
“Richie and the Land Council are paying lip service and are lackeys of whatever party is in power.
“They won’t bite the hand that feeds them.”
Leader of Katters Australian Party, Robbie Katter warned regional Labor members, in particular Ms Lui the party would target them at the next election for “disregarding the wishes of their electorates” by allowing the government to shut down any development on their land.
Cairns News has been contacted by a member of an influential Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) who complained the VMA had scuttled their plans to create a productive cattle breeding property in the north of the Cape.
“We are very angry,” she said.
Cynthia Lui has been associated with politics for most of her life and should know how the flawed system operates.
Her father, Gaetano Lui was a close associate and supporter of the late Queensland National Party Premier Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen and remains a tenacious conservative voter, according to sources on Thursday Island.
When he was Chairman of the Torres Strait Regional Authority in 1996, Mr Lui was a strong voice behind the push for autonomy for the Straits.
Discussing self-rule for the Torres Strait, Gaetano Lui, stated, “ the central force behind this plan [for the TSRA] is our strong commitment to empowering our people to determine their own affairs. It is about controlling our own destiny and putting power back in the hands of our people.” (from HRC)
While the ALP holds power in the state and his daughter holds the seat of Cook, the Torres Strait will remain a part of Queensland. The indigenous people of Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait will have no say under a state or federal ALP government.
“This is why Cynthia’s father never got a mention during the election campaign,” said the Labor insider.
Editor: Our editorial policy when dealing with indigenous informants usually is one of anonymity. Recriminations can be culturally dangerous in some situations.