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Ministerial Statement on Protected Areas and Aboriginal Land

February 24, 2022

Hon. MAJ SCANLON (Gaven-ALP) (Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef
and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs) (10.01 am): It is an incredible privilege to rise to update the
House on the Palaszczuk government’s latest addition to our protected area estate. As the Premier has
just announced, the government has recently acquired Bramwell Station and Richardson Station in
Cape York. These two properties are the gateway to northern Cape York and the northernmost point of
Australia: Pajinka, also own as the Tip. Mr Speaker, as you acknowledge at the beginning of every day
in this place, we are all fortunate to live in a country that is home to two of the oldest continuing cultures,
but we have an ugly and uncomfortable shared history in this country and it is something we need to
tell the truth about. As a government, we have a responsibility to do all we can to restore some of the
wrongs of the past. One of the most important ways we can do that is through land justice.

This morning I spoke to Gerhardt Pearson, whom I want to acknowledge will be here today along
with Richie Ah Mat. Gerhardt was at the first meeting of traditional owners who met in Cape York in
1989 to talk about what would eventually become the program of hand backs that was commenced by
the Goss government. We talked about the painful history of people being forcibly removed from their
land around the tip of Cape York. Back then they did not believe they would get back walking, living or
breathing on country. They never thought their grandparents’ footprints would return. The traditional
owners of this land have waited—they have waited for more than 30 years, and for generations before
that—to have their land back.

The Goss government embarked on a program of land hand backs and it is something that we
are proud to continue. The Beattie government enacted groundbreaking legislation to bring about formal
ownership and joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks, and it has been an important
partnership forged between successive Labor governments and First Nations people over many years.
The next step is for the Queensland government and traditional owners to work together to determine
the most appropriate allocation of land for national parks, Aboriginal land and cultural heritage
management.

This acquisition forms part of the Palaszczuk government’s Protected Area Strategy, with more
than 14 million hectares across Queensland now protected in some way. We have also recently
acquired The Lakes, a 35,000-hectare property north of Hughenden, which we announced last month.
These purchases were highly strategic and carefully negotiated. For the purchase of these three
properties we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to The Nature Conservancy Australia, which brokered
contributions from charitable foundations, including the Wyss Foundation.
Also part of this strategy is the $24 million we announced for the appointment of 54 First Nations
rangers for 13 communities across Queensland, with more positions to come. I want to acknowledge
the former environment minister, the Hon. Leanne Enoch, for announcing those rangers. With their
knowledge and connection to land and sea, these Indigenous rangers play a vital role in their communities and in looking after national parks and protected areas. We are grateful for the knowledge
they share. I know this is a significant announcement and that many people have been working on it for
many, many years. I want to acknowledge those people and the next generations, who will now be able
to leave their footprints on this land.