Indigenous campaigner Tania Major has called on the Queensland government to release its correspondence with an environment group before the last election.
The former Young Australian of the Year said Premier Anna Bligh should publicly release a “secret” March 14 letter to the Wilderness Society regarding controversial Cape York environmental legislation.
Indigenous leaders have accused the Labor government of making a “backroom deal” with environmental groups to secure electoral support at the March state election by agreeing to restrict development in three Cape York river basins.
Ms Major, who is spearheading the Give Us A Go campaign against the wild rivers legislation, said her group had seen extracts from the letter but wanted full disclosure.
“We are concerned because you have a powerful lobby group like the Wilderness Society who have front door access to ministers and bureaucrats, whereas local people on the ground don’t have that access,” she told reporters in Cairns.
“All we are asking for is transparency and for information not to be kept behind closed doors.”
Ms Major and fellow leader Noel Pearson have argued the laws will prevent economic development in impoverished Cape York communities, including Aurukun and Lockhart River.
She also rejected an invitation to meet Wilderness Society chief Lyndon Schneiders in Sydney, instead urging him to attend a meeting of locals in Lockhart River later this month.
Wilderness Society Queensland campaign manager Dr Tim Seelig “utterly refuted” the backroom deal claims.
He said the Wilderness Society, along with many other groups, wrote to all major political parties during the last election to see what their environmental policies were.
“The responses that we received on the key environment issues are positions that are well known, there was nothing surprising or untoward in those responses,” he said.
“It’s entirely legitimate and an important part of the process of democracy.”