Gunggari claim takes a step forward 

The Gungarri people's native title application took a step forward last Saturday, with the presentation of the applicants' 'connection report'. The report describes the history of the Gungarri people and their links to the land in south west Queensland.

The report was presented to officers of the Queensland Government in a ceremony at the site of the 1996 protest camp near Mitchell. The site was on part of the route of the gas pipeline where the Gungarri first asserted they have native title rights and interests. The Tribunal has also been given a copy of the report.

The Gungarri application was lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal in March 1996, and is currently in mediation. It includes parcels of crown land between Mitchell in the east, Charleville in the west and St George in the south.

Tribunal member Mr Graeme Neate - mediator for the Gungarri application - said the completion of the connection report is an important step towards resolution of the Gungarri people's native title application.

"The report provides information which the Gungarri state proves their links to the land, and by which other parties can assess the strength of the claim," said Mr Neate.

At a mediation conference in Mitchell last February, the Gungarri application was substantially amended to exclude areas subject to conflicting native title claims by other Aboriginal groups and land with tenures which the Queensland Government believed had extinguished native title, such as grazing homestead perpetual leases. The Tribunal estimates changes to the claim area have reduced the number of people affected from approximately 750 to approximately 90

Ariane Rummery
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