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Tribunal President welcomes Hopevale determination

The President of the National Native Title Tribunal, Justice Robert French, has welcomed the first permanent agreed determination of native title, at Hopevale in north Queensland.

The determination was made by the Federal Court, sitting in Cairns today.

Justice French said it was an achievement of which all parties could be justly proud.

Although the determination was made over an area that had already been granted under Queensland law to an Aboriginal council, today's recognition of native title involved resolving difficult issues of co-existence between traditional owners and other Aboriginal people in the Hopevale Community.

It also involved reconciling the interests of native title holders with those of the Hopevale Aboriginal Corporation, which is responsible for providing services to the whole community. The Council also holds the State title to the land under a Deed Of Grant In Trust.

Justice French said that other issues that had to be dealt with included the powers and responsibilities of the Queensland Government and its agencies, and other service providers, such as the far north Queensland Electricity Corporation and Telstra.

In addition, the rights and interests of Cape Flattery Silica Mines Pty Ltd had to be recognised and accommodated.

With these and other issues that had to be addressed in the course of negotiations, the agreements that emerged were important models for the coexistence of native title and other rights.

Justice French congratulated the applicants, the State and the other parties for achieving a result which he said set an important precedent for Queensland and other parts of Australia.

"While the present political debate continues, the most powerful rhetoric is provided by agreements on the ground," he said.