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News & events of the Kaurareg homeland of Kaiwalagal, the Torres Strait homeland, and Cape York homelands of the Anggamuthi, Atambaya, Wuthathi, Yadhaykenu and Gudang Peoples
2 - 8 July 2012 • Thursday Island • www.torresnews.com.au • email@example.com • Edition No. 1021 • $2.00 inc. GST
‘We won’t put down the whap’ Torres Strait leaders vow to fight hunting laws By MARK ROY INDIGENOUS leaders in the Torres Strait are angry they have not been consulted over proposed changes to the state’s animal cruelty laws, which they say are aimed at banning traditional hunting of turtle and dugong. The State Government says the new laws, which remove exemptions for traditional hunting under the Animal Care and Protection Act, will not affect native title rights. But Indigenous leaders are vowing to fight in the High Court any move to override traditional hunting rights, currently protected by the national Native Title Act and the Torres Strait Treaty. Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor Fred Gela says the government has shown no willingness to understand a hunting practice and culture which dates back more than 7000 years. “We are being made out to be cruel hunters who purposely torture our game, where this is certainly not the case,” Mr Gela said. “The LNP are proposing a ban on the way we hunt these animals which will be detrimental to the very people we are and how we live each day. “These type of scare tactics, of threatening $100,000 fine or two years’ jail, will not stop our traditional practices. “Our people will not put down our whap (traditional spear) because it is a matter of life or death to us.” Torres Strait Regional Authority chair Toshie Kris said traditional owners in the region would stand up for their birth rights. “Our culture is how we hunt and what we hunt; it’s our tradition to go out and hunt; it’s our lore and we need to give recognition and respect to that law through legislation,” Mr Kris said. “You could see the traditional owners in our region standing up for their birth rights and, if need be, taking it to the High Court.” Earlier this month, SBS World News Presenter and correspondent to the Torres News Stefan Armbruster was granted access to Badu
Seaman sets course to Cairns
to report on traditional hunting practices. He spoke with Laurie Nona (above), a native title holder on Badu Island who is also a hunter and artist, describes an elaborate etching of a turtle he’s made in the island’s art centre. Mr Nona said what seemed cruel in one culture was daily existence in another. “The one way we do to kill it is to hit it in the head, usually with a rock. “Because it’s going to get cut on the beach and, on the beach, we have rocks. That’s how it was passed on from our forefathers. “Turtle has to die, cow has to die for steak to end up on your plate.” But he said there are hunters who no longer fear traditional punishment for hunting the wrong way. Laurie Nona explains why. “If I was to slap my nephew around because he did the wrong thing, he would charge me with assault,” Mr Nona said. “Cultural law is coming to a brick wall where the law of the land now, white man law is there, stopping our cultural law from doing what it’s there for.”a completely a different perspective on how traditional owners practice traditional hunting in the Torres Strait.” Member for Cook David Kempton has asked communities to be patient. “The bill has been sent to the agriculture, resources and environment committee, which means legislation is some way off,” Mr Kempton said. “They will take on different views and make recommendations.” Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh has invited stakeholders to have input.
A musical pearl of the Torres Strait, Uncle Seaman Dan heads south this week to lull crowds at the Cairns Ukulele Festival on July 8 with his special brand of saltwater serenades. Organiser of the event, Gaby Thomas, says it is always an honour to have Uncle Seaman Dan perform. Uncle Seaman Dan (shown here outside the Torres Hotel) is a twotime ARIA award-winning artist. >> Full interview and story, page 11. INSET: Seaman Dan’s 2004 Best World Music ARIA Award is held at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. PHOTOS: MATT GARRICK
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Raid in line with proper procedures: Police THURSDAY Island Police say their response to a report of a ďŹ rearm in the community was measured and appropriate under the circumstances. Police raided a home on Jardine Street at around 9.30pm on April 28, following an incident earlier that evening at a local drive through liquor outlet. Following the search, which the Torres News understands turned up a toy gun, 17-year-old Gesa Gela-Joseph was charged with going armed so as to cause fear. Family and friends of family at the house at the time of the raid say police overreacted to the incident,
which Mr Gela-Josephâ€™s mother Saimo Gela described as â€œpettyâ€?. However ,Thursday Island Police OfďŹ cer-in-Charge Jamie Horn said police would have been acting irresponsibly and foolishly to treat any suggestion of a ďŹ rearm in the community as anything other than a genuine threat, until proven otherwise. â€œI am unable to comment speciďŹ cally on the facts of the incident at this time, as they are before the courts and to do so would be inappropriate, other than to say that I was fully briefed on the matter and believe the police response to have
Correction IN the article â€œToy gun brings serious charge: Family afraidâ€? (page 2, Torres News, 20-26 June 2012) it was reported that the home raided by police belongs to Mrs Saimo Gela. Ms Gela, not Mrs Gela, has informed the Torres News this is incorrect. Ms Gelaâ€™s quote should read as follows: â€œShe said when police raided the home on Jardine Street, at around 9.30pm, her family was forced into the yard without any explanationâ€?, not â€œwhen police raided her homeâ€? as printed. The home belongs to Mrs Margaret Gabey. The Torres News apologises for the error.
been measured, well planned, well executed and entirely appropriate under the circumstances,â€? Snr Sgt Horn said. â€œThe safety of all persons involved in these types of incidents, police and the public, is of the highest priority. â€œFor police to be at a heightened state of readiness when executing these types of operations is in line with proper procedures and the result of years of training. â€œThankfully in a community such as ours these types of events are extremely rare.â€? He said while police fully understand there may be some
level of trauma associated with a police response to a possible ďŹ rearm scenario, this was by no means an intended outcome. â€œWhen children are likely to be exposed even more care is exercised,â€? he said. â€œI am comfortable that the families involved in this experience were well-informed of the process and afforded all the rights they are entitled to at law, including post incident follow up. â€œPolice in remote communities such as ours work hard ensuring community relations are on the whole positive and productive.
â€œWithout community support our job becomes extremely difďŹ cult. â€œThere will always be police action that some sections of the community do not feel satisďŹ ed with, as in this case. â€œI feel conďŹ dent that the day-today contact the Queensland Police Service has with the wider Torres Strait Community is far more positive than negative, and we will continue working together to ensure a safer community for all of its residents.â€? Mr Gela-Josephâ€™s case will come before the Thursday Island Magistratesâ€™ Court again on Monday, July 9.
Separate TSRA election set for September 15 THE TSRA election for the 20 wards in the Torres Strait will be held on September 15. The election is a result of the 2011 TSRA Board review of its governance structure where a major outcome was that the election be held separately from the Local Government elections. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will conduct polling in the 20 Torres Strait and NPA communities who are represented on the TSRA Board - Badu, Bamaga, Boigu, Dauan, Erub, Hammond, Ngurapi & Muralag (Horn and Prince of Wales), Iama, Kubin, Mabuiag, Masig, Mer, Port Kennedy, Poruma, Saibai, Seisia, St Pauls, TRAWQ, Ugar and Warraber.
The AEC will start to call for nominations on Tuesday, July 17, with nominations closing at 5pm on Wednesday, August 15. The AEC will advertise the availability of nomination forms as soon as nominations open, with an Election Guide will also be available at that time to assist both nominees and voters. All Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people who live in the 20 TSRA Wards who are 18 years of age and over, enrolled on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll by 5pm on August 31 and enrolled at an address in these wards, are encouraged to vote. Mobile polling will be conducted by the AEC
for all outer island communities. Communities will be informed of times, date and polling places for their communities prior to the mobile polling teams arriving. Polling booths will be opened on Saturday, September 15, at TRAWQ, Port Kennedy, Horn Island and Bamaga. Should a voter be unable to attend on their polling day, they should submit a pre-poll or postal vote. Further information can be obtained from the Returning OfďŹ cer, Tony Anderson, TSRA Returning OfďŹ cer, PO Box 1146, Cairns, Qld 4870. Telephone: 4051 7188 Fax: 4051 7694. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aec.gov.au
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