Mutawintji National Park
|About this Item||Subjects||National Parks
||Speakers||Allan Ms Pam
||Business||Private Members Statements
Ms PAM ALLAN (Wentworthville) [5.25 p.m.]: Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Tidy Towns Award weekend in Broken Hill, and I am sure a number of members will refer to that over the next week or so. On the Friday prior to the conference, I received an invitation from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to visit the Mutawintji National Park. This is a significant park in far western New South Wales because it was the first park handed back to its traditional owners by the Carr Government in 1998. It is six years since I visited the park and I took the opportunity provided to me by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to visit it again. On the day I was accompanied by Maureen O'Donnell, a traditional owner, a member of the Far West Advisory Committee and a Mutawintji elder. She escorted me to the park, where I was taken on a tour by Gerald Quayle, a worker at the park; Bill Riley and his wife, Muriel, a Paakindji elder.
It was a delightful day and it was great to see that, physically anyway, Mutawintji National Park is living up to expectations as one of the most pre-eminent national parks in western New South Wales. The park has a very significant history, not only its European history and the important role it played for Aborigines within Australia but also because it is one of the three identified meeting places for Central Australia and the major meeting place in outback New South Wales. There is considerable pre-European evidence to confirm the role the park has played in the lives of early Aboriginal people dating back many thousands of years. I do not wish to go into the politics of ownership of the park except to say that there remains a lack of confirmation about traditional ownership.
Nevertheless, Maureen, Bill and Muriel Riley, Gerald Quayle and their families are totally committed to the welfare of the park. They look after the many visitors who have their permission to visit the park. Bill Riley works at Mutawintji National Park and is an Aboriginal elder and traditional owner of Mutawintji. He has been very active in setting up the Darling River Action Group to draw attention to environmental degradation in the Darling River. The action group became mobilised in the past 12 months and tried to run a campaign in the recent Federal elections. It wrote to all candidates of communities along the Darling River to highlight the environmental degradation of the river.
We often hear about the Murray River but Bill Riley believes that we do not hear enough about the Darling River. The group is concerned about upstream usage of the river, in particular, by cotton growers and other irrigators and seeks to draw focus back to the Darling River. Indeed, the action group is very keen for all communities and the State and Federal governments to address its concerns. The initiative that has been taken by Bill Riley is great, together with other initiatives such as the experiences Muriel Riley is having in organising discovery programs and the Aboriginal traineeship in the Paroo-Darling National Park. A range of initiatives are currently being pursued by the traditional owners and elders in the Mutawintji park area to try to address the needs and concerns of Aboriginal communities. I enjoyed the hospitality that was provided to me. I look forward to a continuing relationship with these people. [Time expired.]