*QLD at a Glance

Aboriginal community left in a ‘Catch 22 situation’
JUDITH KERR
09 Jun, 2011 12:00 AM
MINING on North Stradbroke Island has left Straddie’s Aboriginal community in a Catch 22 situation, according to outspoken indigenous activist on the island Dale Ruska.
Mr Ruska, one of the complainants in a court case against mining giant Unimin (now known as Sibelco), said the Aboriginal community was caught between accepting land compensation packages and prosecuting the miner for the “theft of sand and rape of the land”.

He said he also considered the opening of a national park on the island in March an invalid act because not all of the island’s 11 native title-holding families were adequately consulted.

The compensation packages, known as Indigenous Land Use Agreements or ILUAs, were discussed at three meetings for native title claimants on North Stradbroke Island on the weekend.

“The big issue the indigenous community on the island faced on the weekend was whether to accept the ILUAs or not,” Mr Ruska said.

“The problem is that if the native title claimants accepted the ILUAs, they immediately validated what the government is calling ‘invalid’ past and future acts on the land in question.

“That includes the unlawful extraction and sale of sand from the island.

“I believe it is improper to validate unlawful activities that, if prosecuted, amount to indictable offences.

“If the Aboriginal claimants are to have a proper native title settlement, the state should retain its judicial obligations and prosecute the mining company with criminal charges for sand theft,” Mr Ruska said.

The native title claim goes to court next month.

Sand mining company Sibelco’s Paul Smith said he was unaware of any criminal charges being laid against the miner.

Mr Smith told The Redland Times, he had not been contacted by the Department of Public Prosecutions or the police.

“I haven’t heard anything about it (criminal charges being laid) to be honest,” Mr Smith said.

“We haven’t been contacted by the DPP or police.

“We’ve had this court case ongoing since 2008 since they started the action (about breaches to the Mineral Resources Act) but we haven’t heard anything about criminal charges.

“The Planning and Environment Court is not the place for criminal charges,” he said.

Source: http://www.baysidebulletin.com.au/news/local/news/general/aboriginal-community-left-in-a-catch-22-situation/2190843.aspx

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