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Friday, 2 December 2011

Founding an Enterprise, Setting the Pace, & Taking a Leasing Lead

Bana Yarralji Cultural Enterprise is still only an idea coalescing and forming.  Bana Yarralji Cultural Enterprise is still only an idea, starting to take form, yet still to form into an actual entity with a legal identity, legal existence, and more!!

On one Saturday morning not too long ago, meeting on the middle floor of a three story tubular tower in Craiglie ( ie the offices of the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Land Trust ) the Bana Yarralji cultural entrepreneurs  (who have been working hard for more than two years to obtain formal tenure to their proposed enterprise base) . . these cultural entrepreneurs were asked an amazing and surprising question: they were asked 'who' exactly will be leasing the land?

Marilyn and Peter Wallace have long known they need formal tenure (ie a commercial lease) to thier Bana Yarralji base to obtain the necessary security (in law) to be able to truly trade as an enterprise.

After over two years of having their requests for formal tenure continously delayed and postponed by other priorities .. they were almost stunned into silent surprise when they were asked what kinds of leases they might want, and who would be the leasees!! 

It was most fortunate that, on this occasion, they had a commercial lawyer with them, representing them.  The commercial lawyer (Micheal Neal) was ready and able to immediately start discussing possible lease terms and conditions for portions of Lot 7, 873 Shiptons Flat Road, Rossville (core Nyungkalwarra country)

The Aboriginal Land Trust (Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation) had spent time the previous day with Cape York Land Council lawyers and a barrister working through all the legal technicalities and difficulties associated with an Aboriginal Land Trusts actually granting leases to communally held lands within which a native title might exist, for which there is a clause within the relevant law preventing the valid granting of exclusive leases

The Aboriginal Land Trust (Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation) had long been aware that there were legal and technical difficulties with granting to Bana Yarralji cultural entrepreneurs the kinds of leases they were after. Increasingly, over the last year or more, Bana Yarralji entrepreneurs themselves had been so often rejected that they were starting to become  suspicious of 'their' land trust's motives, where the Land Trust was effectively preventing these entrepreneurs from truly launching as a genuine enterprise  

Tensions had been building through all the rejections, refusals and delays (under circumstances where the Aboriginal Land Trust may have felt unable to grant leases, and the cultural entreprenuers may have misinterpreted this inability as being an apparent unwillingness to grant leases).  Relationships between the land trust and Bana Yarralji entrepreneurs had been rapidly deteriorating for some time (and particularly since a Nyungkalwarra forum in May 2011).

On that Saturday morning, 19 November 2011, following legal advices obtained by both parties and tensions building; suddenly everything changed!   The two, Jabalbina Yalanji directors and Bana Yarralji entrepreneurs, with the full encouragement of their respective legal advisers;

i.   decided to join forces; agree in principle to the granting of a 30 year commercial lease for Bana Yarralji enterprise and a 99 year homestead lease for the entrepreneurs to build a new home.  

ii.   passed resolutions agreeing  join forces and see if, together, they might jointly progress the needed leases and pave the way for all the other Aboriginal peoples who are lining up at Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporations doors for leases -

iii.   proposing a 'Heads of Agreement' within which Bana Yarralji leases would be progressed, effectively piloting the way .. jointly identifying and jointly seeking to overcome any and all legal and technical hurtles encountered along the way  !!

One of the first hurtles, it seems, is the need for the land in question to be subdivided.  No subdivision, no lease, it seems.   And what's involved in a subdivision .. hmmm  .. back to the
Cook Shire Council it seems .. with specialist surveys by a cadastral surveyor and more ..

.. Jabalbina Yalanji director described all these things as 'speed bumps' to drive over .. and the meeting ended with  Bana Yarralji entrepreneurs feeling some urgency in giving their enterprise a legal existence in time to take up leases.

Marilyn slowly circled the Jabalbina board room table ... giving each and every one of the 5 directors long grateful hugs  .. hoping that  she and Peter Wallace and others are now looking like they may be heading down the road (speed bumps and all) to becoming one of the first in Queensland to obtain both formal 30 year commercial and 99 year homestead leases!!

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Cultural entreprenuers moving onto country, building a base on country, working on country; caring for country, and hosting guests on country