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Cape York Peninsula Heads of Agreement

Date: 5 February 1996
Sub Category:Framework Agreement | Memorandum of Understanding
Place:Cape York Peninsula
State/Country:Queensland, Australia
Alternative Names:
  • Cape York Heads of Agreement
  • Subject Matter:Access | Cultural Heritage | Environmental Heritage | Land Management | Land Use | Recognition Agreement / Acknowledgement
    Summary Information:
    The Cape York Heads of Agreement is an agreement designed to ensure coexistence on Cape York and joint protection of the environment. This landmark agreement was first signed by the Cattlemen's Union (CU), the Wilderness Society (TWS), the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), the Cape York Land Council (CYLC) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peninsula Regional Council on the 5 February 1996. It is an agreement designed to protect cultural heritage and environmental values while also providing for greater certainty and more effective management of the pastoral industry. The original agreement was revisited in September 2001 and has seen the State of Queensland join the agreement. An important element of the agreement is to establish a mechanism, including a 'Ministerial Implementation Committee', that will translate long-held aspirations for Cape York Peninsula into action.

    The signatories to the refined version of the Cape York Peninsula Land Use Heads of Agreement are the Cape York Land Council, Peninsula Regional Council of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, Peninsula Cattlemen's Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, and the State of Queensland.
    Detailed Information:
    Under the terms of the 1996 agreement:-

    a. Aboriginal people gain an agreement for resolution of native title issues by negotiation rather than litigation;
    b. Cattlepeople gain security in relation to native title;
    c. Conservation groups gain a commitment to World Heritage values and greater funding.

    1. The CU, ACF and TWS acknowledge and affirm that the Aboriginal people represented by the CYLC and ATSIC are the original inhabitants of Cape York Peninsula who are entitled by their traditional law to their traditional customs and culture including access to areas of traditional significance.

    2. The Aboriginal people of Cape York, the ACF and TWS acknowledge and affirm that the pastoralists of Cape York are significant landholders who have existing legal rights concerning industry and lifestyle.

    3. The parties acknowledge that areas of significant conservation and heritage value exist on Cape York Peninsula.

    4. All parties are committed to working together to develop a management regime for ecologically, economically, socially and culturally sustainable land use.

    5. The Aboriginal people agree to exercise any native title rights in a way that will not interfere with the rights of pastoralists.

    6. Pastoralists agree to continuing rights of access for traditional owners to pastoral properties for traditional purposes (these include right to fish, hunt and camp, access to sites of significance, access for ceremonies and protection and conservation of cultural heritage).

    7. The parties support the establishment of a fund for the purpose of purchasing land with high environmental and cultural values by the Commonwealth Government. The fund shall also contain money for effective management of the land.

    Development of the agreement involved many meetings and discussions on Aboriginal communities and cattle properties in Cape York Peninsula, and the agreement was especially important in the public debate following the Wik decision in demonstrating that there are alternatives to the legislative extinguishment of native title.

    Related Entries

  • Archer Point Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Melsonby and State Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Running Creek Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Lilyvale Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Organisation
  • Peninsula Cattlemen's Association - Signatory
  • Cairns and Far North Environment Centre - Collaborator
  • Peninsula Regional Council of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission - Signatory
  • Cattlemen's Union of Australia Inc - Signatory
  • Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation Pty Ltd - Signatory
  • Australian Conservation Foundation - Signatory
  • Cape York Land Council Aboriginal Corporation - Signatory
  • State of Queensland - Signatory
  • The Wilderness Society - Signatory
  • Case Law
  • The Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland & Ors; The Thayorre People v The State of Queensland & Ors [1996] HiCA 40 (23 December 1996)

  • References

    Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation (2000)


    Framework Agreement | Memorandum of Understanding

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