Four men with connections to a proposal to build an international port and associated rail development made a presentation to the General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6, Inquiry into Crown Land, at NSW Parliament House on Monday August 15.
The men – Richard Green, the chair of United Land Councils, Michael Anderson, the deputy chair of the United Land Councils and United First Peoples Syndications, Nicholas Peterson, the strategy and legals executive for the United Land Councils, and Hussein Faraj, the CEO of the United Land Councils and United First Peoples Syndications – spoke, in general terms, about their advocacy to form “a working party with key government stakeholders through which we will secure the support of Aboriginal New South Wales”.
The NSW Legislative Council inquiry is exploring issues regarding the management of Crown land, including the adequacy of community input and consultation regarding the commercial use and disposal of Crown land, appropriate and effective measures for protecting Crown land, and “the extent of Aboriginal land claims over Crown land and opportunities to increase Aboriginal involvement” in its management.
In the wider context of their presentation, Mr Anderson told the committee: “We are confident that, if we cannot achieve greater unity of Aboriginal people, we will certainly be able to deliver a large number of the most important strategic areas of New South Wales, particularly the coast and some regional locations west of the Blue Mountains.
“…We present to the committee our introductory brochure with which we introduce ourselves to Aboriginal organisations across Australia.
“We also discuss the project of a super port in Yamba to cater for the international trade for the next two centuries and, through that port, opening up the vast network of disused rail networks to provide a safe and efficient transportation mode.
“We attach a separate summary of the Yamba super port proposal, because that is directly relevant to this committee and how, working with Indigenous communities, major infrastructure can be created combining port and rail to become the leading means for distribution throughout Australia.
“The promise of employment and lasting careers for the younger generation on their own land is meaningful to the Aboriginal community.
“This same thinking applies to the Yamba super port and rail development. New regional hubs will be created around train intersections.
“Almost all of these potential growth areas involve Aboriginal lands or land claims.
“…As we hope to present to you, we have the backers, both in international investors and venture partners. We have the capacity and funds to change our destiny.”
Significantly, questions from two of the MLCs on the committee, David Shoebridge (The Greens) and Scott Farlow (Liberal Party) were asked on notice.
Mr Farlow: “Could you come back to us on notice as to which land councils in New South Wales are part of your organisation?”
Mr Shoebridge: “I would ask on notice what is your relationship like with the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council?
“Is it a positive relationship, have you sat down and spoken with them about this particular proposal, are you on the same page?
“Secondly, what do you mean by ‘progressive’ land councils, if you could provide that on notice?”
Chair of the Yaegl Traditional Owners Corporation (YTOAC), Billy Walker, told the Independent that his board has not yet discussed the matters raised at the inquiry; however, he said it had met with Messrs Green and Anderson earlier this year.
Mr Walker said: “From my point of view, I’d have to see what they have to say to the board before making any comment.”
He said that a future meeting had not been organised.
United First Peoples Syndications Pty Ltd was registered in Victoria on April 22, 2016, with its address listed as being at Castlereagh Street, Sydney.
United Land Councils Ltd’s address is listed as being in Cambridge, New Zealand.
According to the ASIC (Australian Securities & Investments Commission) database, Mr Green, whose address is listed at Rose Bay NSW, is United First Peoples Syndications Pty Ltd’s sole director.