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Goonack v State of Western Australia  FCA 516
|Date:||23 May 2011|
|Sub Category:||Consent Determination (Native Title Act)|
|Location:||Northern Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia|
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|The determination area consists of approximately 25,913 square kilometres of land and waters in the northern Kimberley region in Western Australia. It extends across the northern coast from Brunswick Bay to Napier Broome Bay. The area consists of: (1) a number of reserves including part of the Mitchell River National Park and the Lawley River National Park; (2) a number of parcels of unallocated Crown land; (3) a number of islands; (4) the sea from the north of Brunswick Bay to Napier Broome Bay.|
|Legal Status:||Registered on the National Native Title Register|
|Legal Reference:||Federal Court No: WAD6033/1999; National Native Title Tribunal No: WC99/35.|
|Subject Matter:||Access | Cultural Heritage | Exploration | Fishing | Land Management | Land Use | Native Title | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership|
|Between: Wilfred Goonack, Pudja Barunga, Albert Bundamarra, William Bunjuck, Benedict Cheinmora, Basil Djanghara, John Goonack, Jack Karadada, Louis Karadada, Sylvester Mangolamara, Margaret Mouda, Ludivina Undulghumen, Placid Undulghumen, Cecilia Waina and Dianna Williams|
State Of Western Australia (FIRST RESPONDENT)
WA Seafood Exporters And Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (Inc) (SECOND RESPONDENTS)
Commonwealth of Australia (THIRD RESPONDENT)
Paspaley Pearling Company Pty Ltd, Pearls Pty Ltd and The Australian South Sea Pearl Company Pty Ltd (NINTH RESPONDENTS)
Judge: Gilmour J
Where made: Garmbemirri
Native title exists in parts of the determination area. It consists of exclusive rights and interests over some portions of the determination area and non-exclusive native title rights and interests over others.
Native title is held by members of the Wanjina-Wunggurr Community.
Exclusive Native Title Rights
The parties have exclusive native title rights to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of land to the exclusion of all others over land described in Schedules 2, 3 and 4 of the judgment.
Non-Exclusive Native Title Rights
Non-exclusive native title rights and interests that exist over land in the determination area include:
- the right to enter, travel over and remain on the land;
- the right to live and camp on the land (including erecting shelters and other structures for those purposes);
- the right to hunt, fish, gather and use the resources of the land;
- the right to light fires for domestic purposes;
- the right to take and use water from the land; and
- the right to engage in cultural activities on the land including (i) visiting places of cultural significance and protecting those places; (ii) conducting ceremonies and rituals; (iii) holding meetings; (iv) participating in cultural practices relating to birth and death; (v) passing on knowledge about the physical and spiritual attributes of the Determination Area; and (vi) maintaining places and areas of importance.
Non-exclusive native title rights and interests that exist over intertidal areas in the determination area include:
- all of the rights described in relation to land; and
- the right to take and use water from the Intertidal Area.
Non-exclusive native title rights and interests that exist over waters in the determination area include:
- the right to enter, travel over and remain on the area;
- the right to hunt, fish, gather and use the resources of the land; and
- the right to take and use water.
These rights do not confer exclusive rights of possession, use and enjoyment of the land or waters. Similarly, they do not confer a right to control access to the determination area. They also do not allow for commercial use of the determination area.
Non-native title rights and interests that exist within the determination area are listed in detail at Schedule 5 of the judgment. These rights can be summarised as:
- various reserves;
- various mining tenements including mining leases and exploration licences;
- rights existing under the Alumina Refinery (Mitchell Plateau) Agreement Act 1971 (WA);
- rights granted by the State of Western Australia or the Commonwealth;
- rights held under any law of the State of the Commonwealth;
- Public rights and interests including the right to fish on, navigate through or use any road in the determination area;
- public rights of access to waterways, beaches and stock routes.
Where native title rights and non-native title rights are inconsistent, native title rights will not be extinguished but will have no effect on the exercise of non-native title rights.
Provisions Relevant to Both Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Native Title Rights
Native title does not exist over:
- minerals, petroleum, geothermal energy or water captured by holders of non-native title rights and interests.
The Wanjina-Wunggurr (Native Title) Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC is the prescribed body corporate nominated to hold the native title on trust for the native title claimants/holders.
The determination concerns a native title application, entitled 'the Wanjina-Wunggurr Uunguu Application', which was lodged on 21 October 1999. The application area covered approximately 25,913 square kilometres in the northern Kimberley region of Western Australian. The claimant group comprises those people who hold in common the beliefs of the Wanjina/Wunggurr People. This is one of three applications brought on behalf of those People. One of the other applications - the Wanjina-Wunggurr Willinggin application - was determined in Neowarra v State of Western Australia  FCA 1402. In this case, Sundberg J held that the Wanjina-Wunggurr Community 'constituted a society and were bound together by a normative system of laws and customs which had continued to be acknowledged and observed by its members in a substantially uninterrupted manner since prior to the declaration of sovereignty over Western Australia'.
The other application - Wanjina-Wunggurr Dambimangari application - was determined in Barunga v State of Western Australia  FCA 518. The Dambimangari and Uungguu claims were initially postponed until completion of the Willinggin claim (with the Willinggin claim acting as a test case for the other claims).
Mediation commenced between the parties in 2006, during which time the State of Western Australia agreed that the Dambimangari people had connection to country dating back to 1829.
Details of the Judgment
The State of Western Australia provided affidavit evidence that accepted the existence of a body of laws and customs under which the members of the Wanjina-Wunggurr Community held rights and interests. In reaching this finding, the State of Western Australia applied the reasoning of Sundberg J in Neowarra v State of Western Australia  FCA 1402 as well as its own guidelines.
Two issues of concern arose:
- Firstly, that two of the named applicants had passed away, raising questions as to whether the remaining applicants required further authorisation to proceed with a consent determination.
- Secondly, that the applicants sought native title to be held by the Wanjina-Wunggurr Community instead of merely by the native title claimant group (which only represented a portion of the Wajina-Wunggurr Community).
In respect of the first concern, the court held that it was in the interests of justice to grant a consent determination without requiring the applicants to seek further authorisation. The applicants had the support of the Wanjina-Wunggurr Community and therefore the court made the consent determination despite any defect in authorisation.
In respect of the second concern, the court considered it appropriate to make a consent determination for the entire Wanjina-Wunggurr Community. Once again, the court considered it to be in the interests of justice to make such an order.
The Court was satisfied that it was appropriate and within its power to make the consent determination.
Following the consent determination, the Wanjina- Wunggurr community declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in the determination area. The IPA covers more than 340,000 hectares of land and waters, which are to be managed by the Uunguu rangers (Sydney Morning Herald 2011).
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