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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment & Heritage
Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP
Senator for the Northern Territory
Senator Nigel Scullion
26 October 2005
Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, represented the Australian Government today at 20th anniversary celebrations of a watershed in Aboriginal land rights.
“I’m proud to represent the Australian Government at this 20th anniversary of the “handback” of Uluru,” Mr Hunt told the traditional owners, Anangu.
“I remember well the national excitement when the Governor-General handed back your title deeds in 1985 and our pride as we embarked on the adventure of joint management of the new Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park.
“Over the past twenty years, the Park has been internationally recognised as a great World Heritage Area – first in 1987 for its fantastic natural environment and then in 1994 for the global significance of your living culture dating back tens of thousands of years.
“You have brought to joint management the guidance of Tjukurpa, your law - your traditional knowledge of plants and animals and how to care for country. You have taught us how to regenerate and conserve the land with traditional burning, how to bring back extinct species like the Mala rufous hare wallaby. You have shared your stories,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt said Uluru - Kata Tjuta is an Australian icon and one of the world’s great national parks.
“Around 400,000 visitors come every year from all around the world – and that number will probably double in the next ten years. It’s worth about $400 million a year to the regional economy.
“We have many challenges ahead in this great adventure. How are we to develop the park so that we protect its natural and cultural values, whilst delivering greater experiences to an increasing number of visitors? How are we to ensure that traditional owners play an even greater role in managing the park?
“I see the fantastic work being done by Anangu rangers who are great role models for the young. I look at the junior ranger program which brings children onto country to learn traditional skills and culture and in addition boosts school attendance.
“I’m excited to see the number of Anangu who are forging a career path protecting culture and country in the park. I see the commitment of Anangu who make up the majority of the Board of Management. All of this fills me with hope,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt’s sentiments were echoed by Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion, who bought with him a message from the Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, who was unable to attend because of other longstanding commitments.
“The Uluru - Kata Tjuta landscape has nurtured the spirit and culture of the traditional owners. And regardless of where Australians may live, Uluru symbolises all we love and cherish about the magnitude and beauty of the land. Indeed it expresses Australia’s inheritance – the remarkable endurance and knowledge of people who have lived here for thousands of years,” the message said in part.
Senator Scullion also said he was proud to be part of the 20th anniversary of Handback and welcomed further co-operation with the Northern Territory Government and the support of the tourism industry.
“Let me assure you that the Australian Government is committed to working together with you to make this an even greater national park, with the benefits flowing to traditional owners,” Senator Scullion said.
Kristy McSweeney 0415 740 722 (Mr Hunt’s office)
Joseph Nyhan 08 8948 3555 ( Senator Scullion’s office)
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