Fitzroy River Traditional Owners Outbid by Billionaires

Support Traditional Owners over billionaire buy-ups!

Urge the WA Government to support indigenous-led sustainable development in the Fitzroy Catchment.

    Dear Minister Wyatt,

    I am writing to you about the recent listing for sale of two prized pastoral stations in the Fitzroy Catchment, Quanbun and Jubilee Downs stations, and the media story by ABC Perth this morning.

    As you know the Fitzroy River is an Aboriginal cultural heritage site and its outstanding values in this regard are also recognised in its National Heritage Listing.

    The Yi Martuwarra Traditional Owners of the area had worked with investors to put in expressions of interest for the stations with a diversified plan for culture, conservation, tourism and cattle but have been outbid by cashed up billionaires who can pay millions more than the working price. 

    I am concerned that even when Traditional Owners are willing to pay for the protection of their cultural heritage, they are thwarted by the aspirations of billionaires.

    The McGowan Government has committed to protect the river and advance sustainable development in partnership with Traditional Owners.  The Yi Martuwarra bid was completely aligned with this commitment.

    Of great concern is that some of the likely bidders for the stations include interests who have asked for very large volumes of water from the river including Hancock Agriculture and NSW cotton and cattle farmers the Harris Family.

    Ensuring the cultural heritage, lands and waters of the Fitzroy River are managed for diverse sustainable enterprises by Traditional Owners is more in the public interest than water extraction, broad-scale land clearing and agricultural pollution by billionaire outside interests.

    As Lands Minister, I ask for your help to support what's best for public interest by prioritising Traditional Owners' aspirations to regain control of their lands and for sustainable development in the Fitzroy Catchment.  Please do anything in your powers to help Yi Martuwarra in this matter; and act with urgency to ensure that the Fitzroy River is permanently protected from the push to take water for irrigation.

    Yours sincerely,
    [Your name will be automatically added]

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    Traditional Owners are outraged that their attempts to buy two pastoral leases on the Fitzroy River for culture, conservation, tourism and cattle are being knocked out of the race by cashed up billionaire investors.

    • The Yi Martuwarra Traditional Owners had their native title recognised in 2018 but have no land of their own. They want to be given a chance to work with conservation investors to buy these leases to create sustainable jobs and protect the Fitzroy River. 

    • The Quanbun and Jubilee Downs leases are west of Fitzroy Crossing and include important cultural heritage sites like Alexander Island.  The whole river is listed as a cultural site and recognized as National Heritage – and places like Alexander Island are the jewels in the crown.

    • It has been flagged that potential buyers could include those who have previously advocated for taking water from the river for irrigation. Existing water requests would use more water than what's used by all of Perth and the Southwest of WA.

    Send a message asking the WA Government to do everything they can to help the Yi Martuwarra Traditional Owners get their land back and to urgently carry out their election commitment to protect the Fitzroy River.

    Photo Credit: Al Mabin