Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Lawyer critical of media APY permit changes

An Indigenous lawyer criticises a plan to widen the permit system for the APY Lands

An Indigenous lawyer says a South Australian Government plan to give the media unhindered access to Aboriginal lands shows contempt for local people.

SA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jay Weatherill is proposing legislation to exempt journalists from a permit system on the APY Lands of SA's far north-west.

He says the Government was forced to cancel a trip to the Lands in recent days partly because media permits were not processed in time.

Neil Gillespie from the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement says local people should retain the right to decide who can visit their land.

"To me it smacks of contempt for Anangu and their wishes and it displays a huge amount of lack of respect for the owners of the land," he said.

"It displays the arrogance that this Government has exhibited over a long time against Aboriginal people.

"It's Aboriginal land. It's the same as you having your house, you invite who you want into your house and onto your land.

"What's the difference? It's just that it's a bigger piece of land. There are very large landholders throughout the country that restrict people's access to the land. Why is there a difference?"

SA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jay Weatherill says there will be proper security measures to protect the land and its people.

"The permit system has been abused and has been caught up in a political game playing between various factions of the APY Lands and we simply cannot defend a system that's abused in that fashion so the changes that we're seeking to make bring it in line with Federal Labor policy," he said.

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