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After a 30-year Battle! Indigenous Australians Celebrate their Victory in 160,000 hectares Land Rights Battle

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AUSTRALIA, May 23, 2017: After a 30-year battle, indigenous groups on Australia’s Cape York Peninsula are celebrating the return of more than 160,000 hectares of tribal land. It has been handed back to three aboriginal clans by the Queensland state government.

It was opposition to the world’s first commercial space terminal in the mid 1980s that galvanized the Indigenous land rights movement in the Cape York Peninsula. Aboriginal campaigners said plans to launch U.S. satellites using Soviet rockets from the site at Temple Bay in northern Australia would have destroyed sacred sites. Conservationists also argued the plan would harm the area’s unique biodiversity.

After a long fight stretching back decades, more than 160,000 hectares of land have been returned to traditional tribal owners.

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Andrew Picone, the northern Australia campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation said it was the first time indigenous campaigners had joined forces with environmentalists.

“Back in the 1980s when the spaceport was first proposed traditional owners launched their own campaign against that spaceport and they had their own legal proceedings as well. They asked for support from the conservation movement because we were also interested in the natural and cultural values of the Cape, so it was one of the first alliances you could say between Indigenous groups and the conservation movement,” he said. (V.O.A)

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About a third of the land returned to indigenous control will be used to create Australia’s newest national park. This will be owned and jointly run by aboriginal groups and should provide jobs in eco-tourism to communities that have had high rates of unemployment.

As all are economic dividends there are significant spiritual benefits, too. Indigenous leaders say the land handover will give them unfettered access and control of sacred sites.

Aboriginal Australians revere the land, and consider it to be the Mother of creation that is full of secrets and wisdom.

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The Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was an historic day after formally handing control of the land on Cape York back to indigenous groups.

There are now 28 aboriginal-owned and jointly-managed National Parks on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, covering more two million hectares. (VOA)

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games Athletes Seek Asylum in Australia and 50 Go Missing

More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

The figures were revealed by Immigration Department officials to a Senate committee hearing on Monday night, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 8,103 athletes, media representatives and officials arrived in Australia on temporary visas for the Gold Coast event which concluded on April 15, with 7,848 returning home after their stay expired last week, meaning 255 stayed in the country.

Of those who have remained in Australia, 205 were legally in the community on bridging visas as they await approval to stay on a permanent basis. Border Force officials have commenced a nationwide search for the other 50 who have overstayed their visas.

The majority of foreigners seeking asylum in Australia were from war-torn African nations such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. However some members of the Indian and Pakistani teams have also remained in Australia.

Swimmers. Pixabay

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs deputy secretary, Malisa Golightly, told parliament on Monday night that most of the remaining participants “have applied for protection visas”.

“Anybody that is onshore can apply for protection legally once they are here, but of course then they are considered against … the criteria for that visa,” she said.

The temporary protection visas allow the Commonwealth Games participants to stay in Australia for up to three years and receive welfare benefits.

Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, said he was disappointed with the number of people who have stayed illegally as they had been welcomed to Australia “in good faith”.

“Australians hate being taken for a ride by freeloaders,” Dutton told Newscorp Australia on Monday night.

Also Read:Indians Among Top Asylum Seekers in the World: International Migration Outlook 2017 Report

“Australia is now obliged under international law to consider these protection visa applications.”

In comparison, only 45 people extended their visas or sought asylum in Australia after the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

–IANS