LABOR WILL HOLD BAIRD GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT IN RETURNING GOAT ISLAND TO ABORIGINAL OWNERS-->
NSW Labor shadow cabinet will visit Goat Island - known traditionally as Me-mel – today to celebrate the news that Labor’s policy to return the land to the Aboriginal people of NSW has been adopted.
The policy to return the island to its traditional owners was one of the first announcements by Luke Foley upon his election as Labor Leader.
The Baird government announced on Friday it would adopt Labor' policy.
Accompanied by former Prime Minister Paul Keating in January 2015 the newly-elected Mr Foley visited the Sydney Harbour island and pledged its return to traditional owners. Labor has been pressuring the Government to act ever since.
Finally, after months of prevarication and on the eve of the shadow cabinet’s visit to the island, the Baird Government says it will begin the process of the transferal of ownership.
Mr Foley and his shadow cabinet will be taken to the island by Tribal Warrior, the Indigenous tourist and training organisation, where they will be met by representatives of the Indigenous community, including members of local Aboriginal land councils.
The Labor Opposition will hold the Baird Government to account and ensure it delivers on its promise.
Goat Island has enormous significance to Indigenous communities and was home to the Wangal people when Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788. It was the property of Indigenous leader Bennelong and his wife Barrangaroo.
The island has been in State Government ownership in its entirety since 1908. It is currently managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services and is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley
“Once again where Labor leads, the Baird Government follows. After dragging its feet over this issue the Baird Government has finally acted to do the right thing.
“Labor is proud to have played a role in such an historic announcement. Hopefully Me-mel’s return will give some restitution to the Indigenous people of NSW.
“I was honoured to take my Shadow Cabinet to visit Me-mel and restate the commitment I made with former Prime Minister Paul Keating and Linda Burney in January 2015.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Harris
“Labor will ensure the Government does what it says and finally Me-mel to its rightful owners.
“Recognising significant cultural issues such as Me-mel is an important part of closing the gap for Indigenous people.”