Elders 'kicked out' of negotiation

BUTCHULLA elders on the Fraser Coast claim youthful activists within the tribe have commandeered royalty negotiations with mining interests potentially worth millions of dollars.

Elders, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, told the Fraser Coast Chronicle they have been sidelined and deprived of information about an agreement struck between Blue Energy and representatives acting on behalf of the Butchulla.

Blue Energy is searching for commercial quantities of coal seam gas in the Maryborough basin where the Butchulla people hold native title.

“These applicants they are supposed to be speaking for us, for the claimants (and) they have made some deals, they have negotiated some deals, but what has happened hasn't been filtering down to us,” one elder said.

“All the elders have been kicked out of the process,” another said.

In late February, Blue Energy chief John Phillips confirmed the deal done with the Butchulla was of a kind that contained provision for payment of royalties.

He said that in 2009 he attended several meetings where up to 12 Butchulla people and their legal representatives were present.

Since February, the Chronicle has tried unsuccessfully on at least six occasions to speak with Gadens Lawyers in Brisbane, the firm handling Butchulla negotiations with Blue Energy.

At least 20 phone calls have been made to Butchulla people to try to contact applicants representing Butchulla interests in negotiations with Blue Energy.

The Chronicle has also contacted the Queensland South Native Title Services and the National Native Title Tribunal on various occasions.

The divide elders allege exists between applicants acting on behalf of the Butchulla and the broader Butchulla community could not be explained.

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