An indigenous tribe in Australia is staking its claim on a valuable piece of land in Queensland. If it is able to hold on to the property, the Kombumerri-NgarangWal Saltwater People envision a tribal casino in one of the most sought-after areas of the state.
The tribe filed a claim for rights to the Gold Coast land with the Queensland Federal Court. It wants to use the 180 hectares (444.78 acres) in southern Quandamooka Country, known to most people in the area as The Spit, for its own commercial purposes.
Those commercial purposes include a resort and possibly a casino. However, if history holds true, fulfilling its dream won’t be easy.
This Land is Our Land
The tribe claims to hold “legitimate rights” to the property, according to NITV News. However, the Spit remains underdeveloped, and the tribe feels it’s time to make the most of it.
In presenting its case on behalf of the aboriginal tribes of the Gold Coast area, tribal leaders assert that the region is sacred land. They have a clear idea of what it would take to bring The Spit to life and are seeking the ability to self-govern, as well as continue to rebound from being an impoverished people.
For too long, we’ve been emasculated when it comes to the commercial use of native title land. We are saying we now want to create our own destiny. We want to be part of the action so we can stand on our own feet. Our focus is ensuring [the] sustainable connection of our people to country. The subjugation and marginalisation in the past [are] over,” Kombumerri spokesman David Dillon said.
Queensland doesn’t have many casinos. Star Entertainment operates the Treasury Casino and Hotel in Brisbane and the Star Gold Coast in Broadbeach. In addition, it is building a new property at the state’s ambitious Queen’s Wharf project.
There was a time when the state considered authorizing a new casino license. However, in 2020, it changed its mind. Now, given the issues Star is experiencing across Australia, perhaps the Kombumerri felt this was the perfect time to raise the subject.
In addition, Queensland has had its eye on the area for years. It began adding new infrastructure in 2020 that included a new pontoon and jetty. However, the indigenous tribes believe the project “lacks vision,” and isn’t consistent with the natural beauty of the area.
Tough Nut to Crack
Over the years, tribes have tried to claim The Spit and take possession of it from the government. However, every bid they attempted failed.
The first Native Title claim for the land was in 1996. Despite the repeated attempts, the government has rejected each claim. The property may hold a lot of value for its commercial appeal, but Australia’s government doesn’t want it to be used that way by the tribes.
Were the Kombumerri to prevail, they don’t want to build a concrete jungle. Instead, they envision a “world-class park” teeming with nature. As the project generates income, the tribe would reinvest the money into the habitat to keep it self-sufficient. However, convincing Australia to see the positive attributes of the development won’t be easy.
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