Yunupingu to hand over traditional land in 99-year lease

AAP- Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One of Australia's most powerful Aboriginal leaders has reportedly agreed to sign a 99-year lease that will hand over control of his traditional land in the Northern Territory. Former Australian of the Year Galarrwuy Yunupingu will sign the agreement today under a landmark deal with the Australian government, The Australian newspaper reported.

The Australian said it understood Mr Yunupingu's community would receive million of dollars for the deal to allow individuals to buy their own homes.

The commonwealth takeover of indigenous land leases is part of the federal government's intervention to halt child abuse in Aboriginal communities.

The Tiwi Island community of Nguiu, north of Darwin, last month became the first community in the Northern Territory to sign up to a 99-year lease.

Mr Yunupingu's deal will re-cast Aboriginal politics in northern Australia, by bringing him together with prominent Aboriginal figure Noel Pearson , who is a major supporter of the Howard government's intervention plan.

Mr Yunupingu's support for the intervention threatens to split the nation's indigenous leadership, following the creation of a new Aboriginal lobby group that urged indigenous communities to actively resist the intervention.

Some in Mr Yunupingu's community were understood to be against the agreement and would oppose it, the report said.

The Howard government has imposed alcohol bans and other measures to halt alarming rates of child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities.