Australian news, and some related international items

Continuing process of removing Aboriginals from their land, making way for mining

handsoffAboriginal people driven from their land Green Left, Friday, February 20, 2015 By Emma Murphy “…………..It is now eight years since the Howard Coalition government launched its appalling intervention into NT Aboriginal Communities — the NT Emergency Response package. While the intervention may seem like old news, it continues to be raised as an example of the increasing neoliberal offensive against Aboriginal people’s right to their own land, identity, and self-determination.

History certainly did not stop in 2007 when the intervention started. Aspects of the intervention, such as income management and increased police presence, have continued and there have been many more attacks as well, not just in the NT, but across the country.

The intervention and policies banning bilingual education and undermining NT homelands, were really about launching an attack on Aboriginal identity and culture. They were about undermining a way of life that really isn’t compatible with capitalism; a way of life that involved collective property rights and aspirations other than home ownership and careers. It is a way of life that embraces multilingualism, sustainability and quite often strong opposition to the extractive resource industry.

Many of the policies in the NT were seen, in one way or another, as forcing Aboriginal people off their land, whether to free up resource-rich land for the extractive industries or to push remote Aboriginal people into larger, more “viable” service hubs.

Right now in Western Australia, Aboriginal people living in remote communities are facing a similar disastrous social experiment. The Barnett government has foreshadowed the closure of more than 100 remote communities. Continue reading

February 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian Aboriginals’ widespread resistance to fracking

Australia Needs New Approaches to Fracking Fracking in Australia continues to meet widespread resistance from Aboriginals. In Western Australia, Buru Energy’s negotiations with traditional landowners in the Canning Basin have been largely unsuccessful, and communities are organizing camp outs to stop the company. In Queensland, the weakening of environmental protections has prompted the Mithaka Peoples to go the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, claiming that “Australia has taken no action to ensure that we are consulted and involved in these decisions, or to protect our rights to our culture.” In the Northern Territory, communities have formed the Northern Territory Frack Free Alliance to oppose the drilling of boreholes and wells near aquifers.

The Australian government is attempting to circumvent these groups with legislative and regulatory changes. While this may accelerate the issuance of permits in the short term, Australia cannot expect to develop a sustainable oil economy without Aboriginal support, and will need to drastically shift its approaches to fracking on Aboriginal territories.

This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian Premier would not meet Aboriginal land councils about remote communities

Colin Barnett turned down invitation to meet Aboriginal land councils, Guardian, , 20 Feb 15 

Councils called meeting with WA premier because they had received no offer of consultation over plans to pull funding from remote Aboriginal communities The Western Australian premier, Colin Barnett, turned down an invitation to meet Aboriginal land councils about a government proposal to close up to 150 of the state’s remote communities, one day before telling parliament he would consult Aboriginal people closely. Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

World’s first wave-energy farm connected to grid is switched on in Western Australia.

We’ve specifically designed the technology to be scalable and one of the main aims of this project was to show you could plug multiple wave units together and have them operating in sync.

“This technology… can operate in a variety of water depths, swell directions and seafloor conditions and can generate power for both onshore and offshore consumption,”

waveWA wave energy project turned on to power naval base at Garden Island ABC News 18 Feb 15, The world’s first wave-energy farm connected to the electricity grid has been switched on in Western Australia.

The project by Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy will provide renewable electricity for Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island.

The same system is also used to run a small desalination plant, which will be used to supply up to one-third of the base’s fresh water needs. Continue reading

February 20, 2015 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian govt to cut off basic services to up to 200 indigenous communities

Australia May Stop Providing Water and Power to Remote Aboriginal Communities, New Daily, By Jessica Lukjanow February 10, 2015 Up to 200 indigenous communities in Australia could lose access to power and water because the government says it can no longer afford to deliver the basic services.

The remote communities are mainly located across the northern tip of Australia and the Kimberley in the country’s northwest. The federal government announced late last year that it would stop paying for the utilities, making states responsible for the communities. The Western Australia (WA) state government says it can’t afford to cover the costs.

Rodney Dillon, an indigenous advisor at Amnesty International Australia, told VICE News that some members of the indigenous communities might not survive a move.

“It would be a complete culture shock, a complete mental shock,” Dillon said. “This is their homeland. It’s where they belong it’s where they are proud. They are the keepers of the land. Some might stay and die on the land. The older individuals won’t manage it — it might kill them.”……..

Initial hopes of establishing a $1 billion “Royalties for Regions” fund, which would have used 25 percent of the state’s mining royalties to cover the cost of power and water for the communities, were quashed this week by WA Premier Colin Barnett, who stressed that the government has not yet reached a solution.

Minster for Regional Development Terry Redman originally floated the “Royalties for Regions” idea, but has since said he was “misunderstood” by the media. He stressed to VICE News that it was simply one option……….

Asked if communities had been contacted about the potential closures, the state’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier said last week that a consultation that involved “going out to all the communities” would be “just nonsensical,” and that “consultation in a general sense will continue” instead.

Dillon said such a consultation has been non-existent so far.

“The communities haven’t been contacted, no one’s asking anything,” he said. “This is going to be done without consultation, it will be a couple of blokes with a coffee in Perth making these decisions.”

The government will decide which communities stay open and which are “not viable” for investment, Dillon added.

The Partnership of Western Australian Aboriginal Land Councils invited Barnett and other key WA politicians to discuss the issue in early March, but they have yet to receive a response…….

The criteria that determines whether a community is viable has not been released, but both Redman and Barnett have stressed the likelihood that at least some of the 274 communities in the state will have to close, perhaps as many as 200.

Lauren Pike, a spokeswoman for the Kimberley Land Council, described what happened in 2011 when the government shuttered an indigenous community in Oombulgurri, a community in the eastern Kimberley, and relocated the residents to Wyndham, about 45 kilometers away.

“The result was just devastating,” Pike said. “They literally told these people to get out of their homes and that they couldn’t stay or come back, and then dumped them in the mangroves around the town.

“Houses weren’t provided — nothing was provided,” she continued. “People in the town literally had to hand out borrowed sleeping bags and blankets for these people coming in so they could have something to sleep on outside. It caused so much trouble in the community, and it only got worse from there. Suddenly people had access to alcohol, to illicit substances. It was just an absolute state of poverty.”……..

Dillon believes any future living conditions in the remote communities would consist of the bare minimum.

“They would be moved to very poor conditions,” he said. “They’re frightened and scared and they speak a different language. Now they’re all possibly going to be moved into slums and shanty towns in the city.”

Groups campaigning against the closure also believe moving the indigenous people into new towns would cost the government more in the long run than if they just maintained the status quo.

February 11, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s remote Aboriginal communities will not be getting state royalties – Premier Barnett

WA premier withdraws royalties help for struggling Aboriginal communities Guardian,  3 Feb 15 Colin Barnett says state mining royalties will not be used to support ‘unviable’ remote communities hit by federal funding cuts. to keep open “unviable” remote Aboriginal communities, the Western Australian premier, Colin Barnett, has said. The move scuttles a lifeline thrown by WA National party leader and regional development minister, Terry Redman, in December.

Continue reading

February 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Conservation Council condemn’s govt’s approval to Kintyre uranium mine proposal

indigenous-1`Minister approves uranium mine threat to National Park  The states peak environment group, the Conservation Council of WA, has condemned the decision by Environment Minister Albert Jacob to approve the Kintyre uranium mine proposal in an excised area from WA’s biggest National Park, Karlamilyi.

Piers Verstegen, Director of the Conservation Council said “The Kintyre uranium proposal directly threatens the unique desert environment of the Karlamilyi National Park, the intricate water network of the Karlamilyi River water catchment and many endangered and threatened species.”

“This decision shows a weakening of standards for environmental protection and is a reminder that uranium and other environmentally significant and dangerous projects must retain Federal oversight under the EPBC Act, something both Governments are trying axe.”

Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner of the Conservation Council of WA said “In an attempt to gain public support for uranium this Government is desperately trying to ‘normalise’ uranium. But uranium is not like any other mineral; it is radioactive and poses a significant and long term risk to the environment and public health. It is the asbestos of the 21st century and we cannot afford to treat it like any other mineral.”

“This decision is just one of many still needed before construction could begin at the proposed mine. This is a bad deal but not a done deal and we will continue to explore every avenue possible to challenge this uranium proposal.”

“Cameco the proponent of the Kintyre uranium mine has a shocking operating record overseas we will be watching their every move here and internationally, uniting with other communities that have been negatively impacted by this company.” Ms Pepper concluded.

January 30, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | 1 Comment

For the convenience of uranium mining, Aborigines are moved off remote homelands

handsoffWaging a war over land rights MEENA MENON , THE HINDU,January 19, 2015  ‘Protests are continuing in various parts of Australia over mining’

In her book of poems, Love Dreaming, aboriginal writer Ali Cobby Eckermann from Australia writes, “Every grain of sand in this big red country is a pore on the skin of my family.” Her writing and her new book, Too Afraid to Cry reflect the alienation of the ‘Stolen generation’ of children who were selectively taken away from their families and raised by white people and also the plight of her people who are waging a war over land rights.

Thousands of people from indigenous communities plan to hold massive protests over land issues on Australia Day on January 26, she says. Protests are continuing in various parts of Australia over mining uranium and minerals and even Kakadu National Park, on the UNESCO World Heritage Site is under threat.

In New Delhi to deliver the annual Navayana lecture, she told The Hindu in an interview that a serious lack of understanding between cultures persists in Australia at a political level and with mining it has expanded. “We worry for our children. Now the Western Australian government wants to use bulldozers and close 150 or 180 small aboriginal communities — they say it is not sustainable to keep these communities going. Where do these people go? They can wander to the city to become a makeshift community under tarpaulin as they are not going to rehouse them,” she says.

The sudden move, she suspects, is to do with mining and removing people from the area so that even that little bit of resistance is gone. That’s the scary part but the aboriginal people will survive. It’s all about land, the war is over land, she says and no one really articulates it like that. “Why would they want these remote areas which are mineral rich to be emptied of people. Western Australia is among the richest mining areas but why is not the government saying some percentage of that mining rights should go to the community. That doesn’t happen, the miners don’t pay tax and we watch the money fly away,” she points out. Continue reading

January 20, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott ‘frozen in time’ as Western Australia sizzles with climate change

heatWA sizzles as scientists reveal 2014 was the hottest in a century JANUARY 18, 2015 NOT even the beach offered respite from the sun’s nuclear intensity as WA sizzled and the mercury approached 40C in Perth on Saturday…….Ambulance officers advised the elderly to stay inside and drink plenty of water and slip, slop, slap was the order of the day as the UV index peaked at 14. Readings of 11 and above are considered “extreme”.

But if you thought Perth was hot, spare a thought for Gascoyne Junction, near Shark Bay 1075km north of Perth, where the temperature was 47C, making it the hottest town in the state…….

New research from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US space agency NASA shows 2014 was the hottest year in more than a century, reviving alarm about global warming.And WA’s top meteorologists agree, saying West Australians face decades of rising temperatures with hotter, drier and more extreme summers as a result of climate change.

Australia in 2014 experienced its third hottest year and hottest decade on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

“It’s climate change. Temps across Australia are warming. There is no getting away from it,” weather bureau spokesman Neil Bennett said.

The NOAA report found that “globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2014 was the highest among all years since record-keeping began in 1880”. The average temperature in 2014 was 0.69C above the 20th century average, beating the previous record-holding years of 2005 and 2010. Russia, Alaska, parts of the US and South America, eastern and western coastal Australia, North Africa and most of Europe all experienced record heat.

Federal Labor environment spokesman Anthony Albanese said in the wake of the NOAA report that Prime Minister Tony Abbott can no longer ignore the evidence on climate change. “Tony Abbott is frozen in time while the world warms around us,” he said……

January 19, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian Government’s plan to extinguish native title & land rights in one hit

Deal to extinguish native title & land rights in one hit, The Stringer by Gerry Georgatos January 14th, 2015 More than 300 Noongar people gathered at a Perth park last Saturday to speak out against the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council’s (SWALSC) support for the Western Australian Government $1.3 billion in-kind package proposal. The Government offer if accepted by Noongar people will come on the condition that their native title rights are extinguished, and therefore whatever shot they have at land rights are extinguished.

It was the largest gathering of the Noongar community, with many high profile Elders, together in the one place on the issue of the Government proposal. The SWALSC have held many community consultations but not one of these community meetings brought together as many Noongars as were present at the ‘No Surrender’ event. The majority of SWALSC community consultations have had less than a dozen people attend.

One of the ‘No Surrender’ campaign organisers, Mervyn Eades said that if the Government proposal is passed through authorisation meetings then “our land and cultural rights will be extinguished.”

“There is nothing in this deal by the Government that provides any certainty over our land rights. We must not accept this deal. We must preserve our lore over the White man’s law.”

“There have been more than 300 native title determinations and more than 900 Indigenous land use agreements but our people wherever in this country have not benefited. Native title has divided and sold out our people. We will not sell out Noongar people,” said Mr Eades.

Noongar cultural advisor and language speaker, Joe Collard, said the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council is short-changing the claimant groups.

“Our native title representative body, our champion, the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council has let down our people. It has got nothing right in any of this. It does not even know or have any idea of our rightful claimant areas, of our clans, of our family run lines.”

Mr Collard said there is enough support in the Noongar community that if it is galvanised can topple the executive leadership of the SWALSC……….

Senior Elder Margaret Culbong said, “We never ceded this land, so we are not going to just give it up. Native title I never agreed with and this deal is less than native title. Neither is native title or this Government’s offer anything to do with land rights.”

Authorisation meetings commence at the end of the month.


January 17, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Despite Minderoo’s objections, uranium exploration will go ahead on Andrew Forrest’s land in W.A.

Uranium exploration given the go-ahead on Forrest’s land, Australian Mining, 8 January, 2015 Vicky Validakis Cauldron Energy has won the right to explore for uranium on Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo pastoral station in the Pilbara.

West Australian Mines Minister Bill Marmion gave the exploration proposal the go-ahead after the mining warden recommended it be rejected in February 2014.

Mining Warden Kevin Tavener said the application for three exploration permits on Minderoo should be rejected because of the company’s low cash position.

It was a decision that reverberated throughout the industry as junior mining companies typically do not have access to deep cash reserves……..

Forrest’s Minderoo expressed its disappointment at the decision.

“Minderoo is disappointed at the minister’s decision to allow exploration by Cauldron Energy within the historical and environmentally fragile parts of Minderoo station,” a spokesperson said.

“As we have continuously stated on the public record, Minderoo supports development as long as it has no negative impact on the environment, and specifically protects the delicate environment of the Ashburton River.”

January 10, 2015 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Andrew Forrest a majority shareholder in uranium company

Andrew Forrest invests in West Australian uranium play, Australian Mining 6 May, 2014 Vicky Validakis After agreeing to a $12 million funding deal, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest is now majority shareholder of junior uranium company Energy and Minerals Australia.

The deal comes just days after Forrest bought Harvey Beef for a reported $40 million.

The uranium buy came as a surprise to the industry, with spot prices yet to recover to pre-Fukushima levels and dropping as low as US$30.75……..

January 10, 2015 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s dramatic drop in indigenous sites receiving heritage listing

handsoffSlump in recommended indigenous sites receiving heritage listing VICTORIA LAURIE, THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 10, 2015 A STEEP drop in Aboriginal sites being added to Western Australia’s heritage register is leading to “a vast sea of ignorance” that will thwart heritage protection, according to Carmen Lawrence, the chair of the Australian Heritage Council.

The dramatic drop in Aboriginal sites being registered — from 80 per cent of sites recommended to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to only 6 per cent — has occurred over three years, from 2011 to May last year.

At least 27 sites registered under the Aboriginal Heritage Act have also had their status cancelled in the past year.

Ms Lawrence said the failure to register sites would make it even harder to identify the state’s heritage, lore and culture, which needed protection. “I’m concerned that we’re going back in time to a place we’d abandoned, the respect and protection levels of the 1950s,” she said.

“In the case of Burrup rock art in the Pilbara, it was unprotected for many years because nobody knew anything about it and Aboriginal voices weren’t heard.”………

Ms Lawrence said amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, now before parliament, removed the requirement for a specialist anthropologist to ­assess sites. She was also concerned a “sacred” site applied only to those places where ­religious activity was ­conducted.

“I’m deeply concerned that song cycles and dreaming lines are explicitly excluded from consideration in this state due to a narrowing of definition,” she said. “Leaving that out is a major part of indigenous heritage. James Price Point is a good ­example: there are middens and burial sites along the Lurujarri Heritage Trail near Broome, but a lot of the significance relates to songs and dreaming tracks.”

She said a 2011 State of the Environment report found indigenous heritage was neither well protected nor well recorded……..

January 10, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Community opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mining should influence EPA’s assessment of Cameco’s plans

Conservation council highlights opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mine bid 

The WA Conservation Council says traditional owners and locals in the northern Goldfields oppose Canadian giant Cameco’s application to mine uranium.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is currently assessing the company’s plans to mine uranium at Yeelirrie, an open pit mine site 70 kilometres south-west of Wiluna.

The EPA approved a similar proposal for the same project submitted by BHP Billiton in 2010, before it was sold to Cameco in 2012.

The council’s Mia Pepper said a public inquiry into the project was needed.

She said traditional owners and locals in the area had opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for 40 years.

“Yeelirrie in the traditional language means place of death which is a strong indication about local knowledge and there’s also white communities there that have opposed the project for over 40 years,” she said.

December 13, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Perth council wants renewable energy to be a requirement in home building plans

text-people-power-solarPerth council to seek mandate on renewable energy for new homes, ABC News, 10 Dec 14 720 ABC Perth  By Emma Wynne A Perth council is hoping to radically alter its planning scheme to require new homes to have their own energy supply.

Nedlands council, which covers some of Perth’s wealthiest suburbs, will apply to the WA Planning Commission to alter their planning scheme to require installation of onsite power generations, such as solar panels or wind power, in all new home building…….

December 13, 2014 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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