LAND RIGHTS: Campaigners including Wit-boooka (left), outside court yesterday.
LAND RIGHTS: Campaigners including Wit-boooka (left), outside court yesterday. Arthur Gorrie

Court told settlement 'illegal' even under white law

MUCH of the Queensland coast from Brisbane to Bundaberg has been settled illegally, according to Gympie Aboriginal land rights activist Wit-boooka.

He is charged under his registered name, Gary Tomlinson, along with co-accused accused, Diane Redden-King (who told the court her actual name was Djaki Widjung) and Mervyn Tomlinson ( Djaa 'mee Gular Djan du Kabi).

The third defendant appeared by telephone from Bundaberg, in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday.

The three have repeatedly challenged the jurisdiction of the courts, claiming they are not subject to British law.

They are charged with trespassing, after an alleged invasion of Gympie Regional Council's Mary St offices 18 months ago.

They have claimed they could not have been trespassing, as the council building is on Kabi tribal land, which has never been lawfully relinquished.

Tomlinson told magistrate Chris Callaghan the court faced a moral choice in presiding over the case, which the three accused claim breaches their law.

Tomlinson was sentenced for contempt after he laughed at the magistrate and, when challenged, folded his arms and said: "It's a free world."

"It's not that free," Mr Callaghan said, ordering Tomlinson into the dock, at about 10.45am.

About two hours later, he recalled Tomlinson and released him on remand, saying he proposed no further action.

He remanded the three to March 19, after which pre-trial proceedings in the District Court are expected to be finished.

There, they are seeking to establish "land ownership and connection to country," Redden-Ling has told The Gympie Times.

She was correcting a report in this morning's print edition which said they were seeking orders for the prosecution to provide more information.

She said some further information had been provided, but more was still hoped for, including witness statements and the results of forensic examination of the council foyer and office where the incident allegedly occurred in May last year.

The three have told the court of a Government decree, announced in the Government Gazette of April 19, 1842, that white settlement north of Moreton Bay was illegal.

The decree, which they call The Bunya Proclamation, bans white settlement north of Moreton Bay in "any lands in which the Bunya tree is found," because of prior Aboriginal occupation.

Speaking outside the court, Redden-King said the activists did not seek to ban non-Aboriginal settlement, but wanted a real say in protecting the environment and sacred sites.

No disrespect is intended by The Gympie Times in using the three defendants' registered European names for the sake of brevity.