Quandamooka Coast claim sparks fighting talk – Peter Wear

A Redlands mayoral candidate has raised the spectre of city-wide racial discrimination following the Quandamooka Coast claim under Australia’s Native Title laws.

Andrew Laming wants to fight Quandamooka Coast claim for Native Title.
Andrew Laming, when MP for Bowman

Andrew Laming says he will “fight Native Title” to save local playgrounds being racially divided by “a Traditional Owners’ slippery slide, and everyone else’s slippery slide.”

He’s referring to the Quandamooka Coast claim that’s been active since 2017, and covers much of Redland City. Laming simply can’t understand “why should they want to claim the land?”

Perhaps it’s because their right to do so became law over thirty years ago.

In 1992 the High Court of Australia dismissed the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’ – that prior to British sovereignty, Australia was ‘no one’s land’. The Court ruled that Native Title pre-dated and survived colonial settlement. It exists now and in perpetuity unless lawfully extinguished – primarily by property rights, such as private freehold.

Federal Parliament passed the Native Title Act the following year. It enabled, and thereby encouraged, Indigenous Australians to identify and claim their surviving rights to country.

In 2011 the Quandamooka People’s claim over 54,000 hectares on and around Stradbroke Island was determined in the Federal Court. The judge, John Dowsett, spoke memorably of the natural justice that informed his decision. 

“ I have not come here today to give anything to the Quandamooka people. These orders give them nothing. Rather, I come on behalf of all Australian people to recognize their existing rights and interests, which rights and interests have their roots in times before 1788, only some of which have survived European settlement. Those surviving rights and interests I now acknowledge. In so doing I bind all people for all time. This includes the Commonwealth of Australia, the State of Queensland, the Redland City Council and the Brisbane City Council.”

The current Quandamooka Coast Claim covers the rest of Redland City and has been in train for almost seven years. It’s a complex process.

Quandamooka coast claim
Boundary of the Quandamooka Coast Claim

Claims must first be validated by the Native Title Tribunal. Claimants need to produce compelling evidence of their connection to place through traditional laws and customs, continuously observed by their forebears since sovereignty. Myriad blocks of claimed land are assessed, and struck out if title has been extinguished.

Stakeholders such as governments, corporations, business interests and private individuals are central to the claim process. Formal negotiations seek to establish which parcels of land, and which Indigenous rights over them, can be agreed upon. Rights may include freedom to live on the area, hunt, fish, gather food, perform ceremonies, teach law and custom, and so on. If agreement can be reached, the Federal Court, as per the 2011 Quandamooka People’s claim, can deliver a consent determination. If not, litigation is the only resort.

Given the adversarial nature of negotiation, especially over public land, political grandstanding is guaranteed. Which brings us back to Andrew Laming’s segregated slippery slides.

Both Laming and our Federal member for Bowman, Henry Pike, have made much of the 3,500 blocks of Redland City Council land included in the Quandamooka Coast Claim.

Many claims won’t succeed because Native Title is extinguished, according to the State Government.

The Council is stalling on consent to the claim, pleading the numbers make assessment too onerous.

But the State Government has informed Council that title has been extinguished in well over 90% of those examined so far. It still leaves some public assets like parks, cemeteries and council buildings on the negotiating table, but that’s exactly the point.

The Native Title Act always envisaged negotiations in good faith between claimants and stakeholders as the key to consent agreements. Over 160 Queensland claims have achieved that outcome since the Act was proclaimed in 1993. Another 52 are currently being negotiated.

Laming’s fists raised to “fight Native Title” are the antithesis of the patient negotiations that have delivered nearly 600 consensual agreements over 30 years. Would he, as Redlands Mayor, abandon negotiations and send the claim to the Federal Court for trial? Council would face Quandamooka’s government-funded lawyers, and a track record of two successful claims already. Which side would you back? And your guesstimate of the Council’s legal bill?

As for segregated slippery slides, Federal, State and Local laws overrule Native Title rights. Andrew Laming should consult the Racial Discrimination Act, unless of course he plans to fight that as well.

Peter Wear

Redlands2030 – 18 February 2024

3 thoughts on “Quandamooka Coast claim sparks fighting talk – Peter Wear”

  1. Andrew Laming has nothing to offer our community but fear and loathing and unhinged self-promotion. If elected he has offered nothing in terms of policy to make Redlands a better place to live. If elected he will do nothing for the community. He is a disgrace. Even his own party, the Liberal National Party, refused to endorse him for Oodgeroo in this year’s state election.

  2. Mayoral candidate Andrew Laming clearly signals his election platform – which is a deliberate choice – to cause years of potential controversy – rather than engage in respectful honest truth telling consultation and solutions.

  3. Andrew Laming specialises in fear tactics without any recognition of facts. I doubt he has even informed himself of the Native Title Laws. If elected as Mayor he potentially will add enormous costs to the Redlands Ratepayers. Check all facts behind his statements.

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