Warring clans accused of spending too much on litigation in NLC battle

The Australian  |  Friday 15 September 2017

Leaders of the Rirritjinga Aboriginal Corporation, Bakamumu, Witiyana and Wanyubi Marika.

Leaders of the Rirritjinga Aboriginal Corporation, Bakamumu, Witiyana and Wanyubi Marika.

A multimillion-dollar feud involving the powerful Northern Land Council and warring Aboriginal clans shows no sign of abating even though the High Court today refused to hear an important case about disputed traditional ownership rights and mining royalties.

All sides have already expended vast sums on legal fees, and criticism is mounting that key Aboriginal leaders may be neglecting the interests of their impoverished brethren by investing so much money in litigation.

The dispute also threatens township leasing plans intended to support economic development.

But influential members of the powerful Rirratjingu clan remain determined to reshape the way land rights laws operate, claiming the current model severely disadvantaged them in their lengthy battle with Galarrwuy Yunupingu’s rival Gumatj clan.

“The fight has just begun,” Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation Chairman, Bakamumu Marika said after hearing yesterday’s High Court decision.