Details of land deal to be revealed when last council signs

A CLEAN sweep of Central Queensland mayors has seen the Aboriginal flag flying proudly above council chambers following years of campaigning.

Incoming mayors have been quick to leave their predecessors' legacy behind, paving the way for a land agreement ten years in the making to be finalised.

Gladstone is one four councils involved in a "secret" deal with the Port Curtis Coral Coast People who, in November, refused to sign off until the flag was flying in all four areas; Gladstone, Fraser Coast, North Burnett and Bundaberg.

Now the North Burnett Regional Council is the last to agree to fly the flag.

The Observer understands that will happen tomorrow when the new North Burnett mayor Rachel Chambers will, with the agreement of her councillors, make the change formal.   

For Gurang elder Kerry Blackman, the man charged with signing the agreement on behalf of the Port Curtis Coral Coast People, it's been a long time coming.

Mr Blackman was the driving force behind protests in Bundaberg where former mayor Mal Forman refused to raise the flag other than for special occasions such as NAIDOC week.

Former North Burnett mayor Don Waugh had a similar attitude and labelled Mr Blackman's refusal to sign the ILUA deal as "being held to ransom".  

But Mr Blackman says indigenous communities shouldn't have had to fight so hard to see the flag flying on a daily basis and the new policy brought these four councils in with the rest of Australia.

"It's the dawning of a new day and a new relationship with first nations' people," Mr Blackman said.

"It's a progressive step towards reconciliation and the only way forward."

VIDEO | Flag protest in Bundaberg

Mr Blackman said he would sign the agreement, the details of which can then be made public, as soon as the councils were ready.

Raising the Aboriginal flag above Gladstone's council chambers was one of the first items of business for Matt Burnett after being sworn in as mayor. 

Follow this reporter on Twitter @helenspelitis



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