Ward 4b - Continuing Expropriation


Continuing Expropriation

Mr Ward’s traditional lands and their surrounds were and still continue to be locked up and rendered inaccessible:

• by petroleum exploration licenses issued in the 1920s
• by the Class A listed Gibson Desert Reserve established there in 1976
• by the Federal Weapons Research Area established in the 1960s, and its successor, the larger Woomera Protection Area, which functioned as a detention camp for asylum seekers from 1999-2004 before reverting to military use.

A 2015 ruling reaffirmed that historical petroleum licences over the land would impact on any native title compensation Mr Ward’s people might gain from the seizure of their land.


‘There is nothing out here for the government; it’s our country, it’s where our spirit is…’

Daisy Ward

In 2015 the court ruled that the historical petroleum tenure over the Gibson Desert Reserve lands ‘had the effect of extinguishing the Native Title right to control access’, greatly reducing the original compensation the group hoped to seek.

The claimants then decided to withdraw their claim and seek a political solution. They considered it an insult to their cultural integrity to proceed with the case seeking a diminished compensation, or appeal against the decision on the exploration licences.


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