AAP | JULY 2, 2014
The government’s top indigenous affairs adviser has accused green groups of deliberately working to keep indigenous communities in poverty.
Head of the prime minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, says environment groups want indigenous people to remain impoverished, and achieve their goal by blocking economic development.
Mr Mundine’s message follows a Federal Court decision that returned development rights for land surrounding three Cape York rivers to its traditional owners.
The river systems had been protected by wild rivers declarations, enforced under Queensland Labor when it was in power, which were ruled invalid in June.
Mr Mundine said state Labor and the Greens worked together to strip Cape York land owners of their rights in order to prosper from their land, “unlike every other landowner in Australia”.
“Green groups should hang their heads in shame for wanting to keep indigenous Australians in poverty,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Australian Financial Review.
Those groups, including the Wilderness Society, were responsible for the abandonment of other economic projects on indigenous land.
But the only way for indigenous people to rise out of poverty is through commercial development, Mr Mundine said.
“Too bad Aboriginal people are amongst the poorest people on the planet; a people whose main assets are rights over land and sea,” he said.
“After years of dispossession and being forced off our land, we’re slowly getting some of those rights back only to be told by green groups that the music has stopped.”