Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he will introduce a private member’s bill on Monday to overturn Queensland’s Wild Rivers laws.
Mr Abbott met with Cape York community leaders in Cairns today, as well as Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, before heading to Normanton in the state’s Gulf Country.
The Queensland Government says the laws are designed to stop excessive development near pristine rivers.
But Mr Abbott says he is convinced the legislation is stifling progress and denying Indigenous land rights.
“Wild Rivers is bad for the future of Cape York. That’s why my private member’s bill is important,” he said.
“That’s why it’s really very disappointing that the Government is trying to bury it in yet another committee.
“I’ll be bringing the bill into the parliament next Monday.”
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch says the laws have an impact across the Cape communities.
“It’s not just the Indigenous communities, it does have an impact right across the spectrum,” he said.
Mr Pearson says the legislation is stopping Aboriginal communities from improving their circumstances.
“If people don’t have an ability to undertake reasonable economic development, we are never going to get out of our social problems. Never,” he said.
The Federal Government has commissioned a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry into the legislation to decide whether to support Mr Abbott’s bill.
On Monday, concerned parties were given three weeks to file their submissions – a move that has been criticised by some groups who say it is not enough time.
Wilderness Society spokesman Glenn Walker says Mr Abbott’s visit to far north Queensland to consult on Wild Rivers legislation is nothing more than a media stunt.
Mr Walker says the Wild Rivers laws have strong support in Cape York communities.
“Today’s meetings in Cairns are nothing more than a stunt,” he said.
“It’s been organised by anti-Wild Rivers campaigners Noel Pearson and Warren Entsch, when really what Mr Abbott should be doing is going to Cape York and talking to traditional owners on the ground, particularly those that support Wild Rivers, because they’ve been marginalised in this debate.”