Prince Harry with Butchulla dancers, as they welcomed him to K'Gari, or Fraser Island during last year's Royal visit.
Prince Harry with Butchulla dancers, as they welcomed him to K'Gari, or Fraser Island during last year's Royal visit. George Seymour

After Mabo - Aboriginal claim on rest of Fraser Island

THE recent $2.5 million High Court compensation win for two Northern Territory Aboriginal groups has been revealed as the precursor to other claims, including on Fraser Island.

Lawyers now representing the Butchulla people say the issue is separate from the tribe's Mabo win over an unallocated part of the island.

This case will involve compensation for sections of the island which have been alienated from Aboriginal ownership, they said.

The High Court ruled last week that the Northern territory owed the Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples about $2.5 million for the loss of their non-exclusive native title rights over about 1.26sq km of the outback town of Timber Creek.

Now the lawyers have confirmed that the southeast Queensland-based Wardingarri, Butchulla and Wulli Wulli people have all lodged similar claims in the Federal court.

The Wardingarri and Wulli Wulli people are seeking compensation for lost native title rights over two areas of resource-rich land north of Roma.

The Butchulla claim involves about 2000sq km of Fraser Island, according to the lawyers, who were also quoted in The Australian newspaper this week.

Colun Hardie, principal of Just Us Lawyers said his clients wanted "economic opportunities for themselves and their families rather than "a big bag of money”.

The national daily quoted Mr Hardie saying "K'Gari is a huge tourist attractions.

"Most people that go there have to pay a barge fee or a camping fee, and we're looking at perhaps there should be an addition to that.”

The revenue would support operation of the group's prescribed body corporate.

The compensation is for rights found to have been extinguished, as opposed to land which has not been allocated to others, "such as where tenure was granted over land later determined to have native title.

The firm's special counsel, Ted Besley said the government's use of otehr legal remedies to limit the scope of native title determinations was proving counter-productive.

"They've created a much greater compensation bill by pushing so hard against native title determinations,” he said.

"They've made a rod for their own backs.”

The Australian's northern correspondent Amos Aikman said the landmark Northern Territory ruling was the first time the High Court had valued lost native title rights.

"Some experts predicted the decision would trigger a flood of claims costing billions,” the paper reported.

"Canberra is negotiating with the states and territories over who should foot the bill and how to handle future claims,” the paper reported.

Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are said to be all seeking a new framework for native title compensation claims and more federal financial support.

Canberra appears to have said no at this stage.

Mr Besley said his clients wanted governments to recognise native title rights extinguished before a legal cut-off date in 1975.