Awabakal land council applies to rule out Aboriginal native title claims on Newcastle Post Office

Newcastle Post Office Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council has applied to rule out native title claims over Newcastle Post Office before the building is sold.

The Newcastle Herald has learnt that Awabakal, which acquired the building in 2014 under a NSW Land and Environment Court ruling related to unused Crown land,filed a non-claimant application to the Federal Court in October to effectively prevent future native title claims by other parties.

The National Native Title Tribunal says anyone with a native-title interest in the land should file a claim with the court before April 23.

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Awabakal’s move would help clear the way for the post office to be sold or for the land council, which is in administration until at least April, to enter into a joint venture on the site.

“It’s a safeguard to ensure that there are no nativetitle claims there,” Awabakal chief executive Rob Russell said.

Mr Russell said 11 parties had tabled offers for the post office before expressions of interest closed last month and Awabakal and Colliers International would create a shortlist of candidates next month.

Awabakal members would vote on which proposal to accept.

“Most of them are outright sales, for varying figures,” Mr Russell said.

“The land council obviously wants to encourage an ongoing relationship with whatever development takes placebecause there are opportunities there for training and employment for Aboriginal people and to see what kind of wider community benefit we can obtain by an ongoing collaboration, whoever the new owner might be or whatever the proposed development is.”

He said “a couple” of candidates had proposed a partnership with Awabakal, some had outlined development proposals andothers had simply written down a dollar figure to buy the building.

Knightsbridge North Lawyers has placed a caveat over the post office while it pursues Awabakal for $26,743 in allegedly unpaid fees, a matter which will return to the Supreme Court inFebruary.

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