$196 million Broome native title deal Australia's largest

25 Feb, 2010 01:06 PM
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A $196 million deal to be signed today by the state government and Broome's Yawuru people will be the biggest-value native title agreement in Australian history.

About 350 people will witness the ratification that will see the Yawuru people receive benefits worth $56 million and land valued at about $140 million.

The record deal, including two indigenous land use agreements, will resolve native title issues over large areas of land in and around Broome.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the record agreements would dramatically increase land supply in Broome, with about 1875 hectares freed for residential, tourism, industrial and future airport development.

"Huge population growth in recent years has seen the median house price in Broome soar to more than $635,000 in 2009," he said.

"With expected demand only set to increase, these agreements will help provide economic prosperity for the region in years to come."

The agreements concern the 5298 square kilometre Rubibi native title claim, and will free up large tracts of land for the Yawuru and other parties to develop.

In August last year the government dropped its appeal against the claim, delivered by Federal Court Justice Ronald Merkel in April 2006.

Justice Merkel had found that the Yawuru, who had worked to establish native title since 1994, were largely successful in their application and granted them rights over the area.

The backdown precipitated a wider rethink on indigenous litigation, with WAtoday reporting in November that Mr Porter had also shelved Federal Court action against the Noongar land claim over Perth.

Broome shire president Graeme Campbell said he was proud the agreements would be signed, even though they were 16 years in the making.

"It's been a long time in the making and the importance of this to the Yawuru people cannot be underestimated," he said.

"The recognition of what is rightfully theirs and the economic, social and heritage benefits will set the future for this town."

WAtoday

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