Federal ALP President Warren Mundine is bitterly disappointed with the Western Australian Government’s decision to appeal against the Noongar native title decision.

“The real issue here is that the court has recognised the Noongar people as a continuing and living culture. To want to challenge that is bizarre,’ Mundine told Crikey.

Mundine, who is also Chief Executive Officer of New South Wales Native Title Services, described inflammatory statements suggesting that the judgment creates legal uncertainties as “nonsense”.

“I sat down with a number of QCs and we are of the strong opinion that this case reinforced the principles of Yorta Yorta,” says Mundine.

Justice Olney, the trial judge in Yorta Yorta case, famously described that claim as having been “washed away by the tide of history”. Mundine is clear that the circumstances in the Noongar case are different. “The Noongar people met the test of continuous connection”, he said.

Mundine is concerned that elements of the Labor Party’s senior leadership are out of touch with the rank and file on this issue. “I’ve had a flood of phone calls, e-mails and text messages from ordinary party members who support the decision.”

“I’ve had conversations with Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter personally, and with Eric Ripper’s office and Kim Beazley’s office. On a personal level they all recognise the Noongar people and the Noongar culture. It’s about time they put some meat on the bones, otherwise they just look like ratbags.”

The plain-speaking Mundine recently described Opposition Leader Kim Beazley’s analysis of the Noongar decision as “bullsh-t”.

“It’s about time governments stopped catering to the red-neck element in the community,” says Mundine, “with these knee-jerk reactions to appeal before they’ve even read the judgments.”

Peter Fray

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