Native Title Agreement - Legal representative for Cane Farmers from the region Chris Cooper. Photo: Cody Fox
Native Title Agreement - Legal representative for Cane Farmers from the region Chris Cooper. Photo: Cody Fox

Sweet relief for growers concerned about Native Title

IT IS likely to be business as usual for established sugarcane growers on the Fraser Coast following the historic Native Title determination handed down in Urangan yesterday.

Justice Michael O’Bryan acknowledged the Butchulla people as the traditional and cultural owners of around 100,000 hectares of land stretching from Rainbow Beach to Hervey Bay and Maryboroug, including the waters of the Great Sandy Strait.

The Queensland Canegrowers Organisation was among the parties that signed the agreement. Its legal representative, Senior Counsel Chris Cooper told the Chronicle after Justice O’Bryan handed down his judgment that most of the sugarcane farms on the Fraser Coast were not affected.

“There are no concerns among cane growers in the area. People became more comfortable as the process unfolded over time,” he said.

Mr Cooper said the determination would only affect farmers looking to expand into areas not already classified as freehold properties.

He said any developments into newly opened Crown land would need the approval of the Butchulla people before going ahead.

“At first there was some concern among farmers that their licenses and permits would be affected, but there is no animosity among members,” Mr Cooper said.

Mr Cooper said the organisation acknowledged the importance of the determination and wanted to take part in the process.