Australian news, and some related international items

Northern Territory development : Aboriginal owners asked to agree to extinguish native title

exclamation-Northern Land Council calls for major rethink of northern development amid concerns about Ord expansion talks PM  By Sara Everingham ABC New, 25 July 15,   The head of the Northern Land Council (NLC) has said a major rethink of northern development is needed and he fears one of the Northern Territory Government’s key strategies for boosting agriculture will lead to little but heartache for Indigenous people.

Chief executive officer Joe Morrison said traditional owners were being asked to agree to extinguish native title to allow for the expansion of the Ord Irrigation Scheme from the East Kimberley into the Northern Territory but he said he was worried there would be few lasting benefits in return.

Continue reading

July 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Barnett goverment moving Aborigines off their land to benefit miners

handsoffIt is a trend that points to one thing — move indigenous people off their country so that the miners get a free hand and they can do as they will.

Michael Martinez: WA stance on indigenous Australia a worrying sign, MICHAEL MARTINEZ GEELONG ADVERTISER JULY 09, 2015 “…….. Mr Barnett and his pro-mining party members are trying to change the Aboriginal Heritage Act so that one bureaucrat can make a decision determining if a site is sacred or not.

There has already been a Supreme Court decision questioning the deregistering of a sacred site in Port Headland, and there are 22 other sites that the West Australian Government has removed during the past few years.

A government committee in Western Australia and the minister decided that the land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.

Justice Chaney said in his judgment: “I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site.”  Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The hypocrisy of Abbott and Shorten in the constitutional “recognition” for Aborigines

On July 1, just days before the Kirribilli gathering, the Abbott government cut off funding for the Aboriginal Medical Service at Mount Druitt in western Sydney, cutting adrift its 11,000 active patients and 96 doctors, nurses and other staff.

Since the 2014 federal budget, the Abbott government has stripped $600 million in funding from indigenous community organisations, including health, legal and language support services. It has also driven, via funding cuts, moves to shut down hundreds of remote settlements in Western Australia and elsewhere, forcing their residents off traditional lands.

Despite the hype, no concrete proposals emerged from Monday’s gathering

Australia: The political fraud of constitutional “recognition” for Aborigines, World Socialist Website  By Mike Head  8 July 2015 A hand-picked group of 40 indigenous officials and academics joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten in Sydney on Monday for what was billed by the establishment media as an “historic summit” to discuss a proposed referendum to “recognise” indigenous people in the Australian Constitution.

The contrived event, staged at Kirribilli on Sydney Harbour, one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods, exposed the widening social and economic gulf between these privileged layers and the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who live in poverty-stricken working class suburbs, rural towns and remote settlements……. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Mirrar people call on Abbott government to secure Kakadu National Park from further uranium mining

Ranger-pitTraditional owners ask Abbott government to fix stand-off over Ranger uranium mine, SMH. July 12, 2015 –  Resources reporter The traditional owners of the land on which the Ranger uranium mine is built have challenged the federal government to guarantee that no future mining will occur on the Ranger and Jabiluka mineral leases, and to begin preparations for the sites’ inclusion in Kakadu National Park.

In rare comments that do not bode well for the operator of the mine, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), the Mirarr traditional owners indicated they would not agree to an expansion of the Ranger mine in the future, despite ERA seeking to keep that option open.

More than a month after ERA’s major shareholder, Rio Tinto, declared it did not support the Ranger expansion project, the uranium miner continued to push that barrow, and confirmed on Friday it had asked the federal and Northern Territory governments for an extension of its lease beyond 2021 so that it might reconsider the mine expansion if commodity prices improved.

Mirarr spokesman Justin O’Brien said the comments continued the “intense uncertainty” that had surrounded ERA’s future.

He called for certainty from the Abbott government.  Continue reading

July 13, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott speaks at strong anti nuclear protest in Adelaide

Buzzacott,-KevinNuclear dump would destroy our land: elder Aboriginal elders from across the country have joined scores of university students camping out in a stand against the storing of nuclear waste in Australia.

Protesters from far and wide have set up a tent community at Flinders University in Adelaide in protest against plans for a nuclear waste dump, in South Australia or anywhere else.

text-relevant“To the South Australian government, to the federal government, to the mining giants – don’t worry about trying to put the waste dump here,” Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzacott said on Thursday.

 “Because you’ll be wasting your money. We’ll be out there trying to stop it.” The action comes as the federal government is set to reveal a shortlist of prospective sites for a possible nuclear dump before making a final decision in 2016.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINIt also coincides with South Australia’s royal commission into nuclear power, which is looking at whether the state should expand its involvement in the nuclear industry.

At least one SA Liberal senator says it should, with Sean Edwards recently urging the state to cash in by becoming a global player in the spent nuclear fuel recycling industry.

But Mr Buzzacott said a storage facility would destroy the sacred land of the country’s traditional owners. “We’ve lost a lot of sacred sites as it is,” he said. “We don’t want to lose any more. “We’ve been here 40,000 years. We’ve never touched the land – we love the land.”

July 10, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Nuclear Royal Commission, opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

We need to change the Native Title Act and get Real Land Rights for Aboriginal poeple

“we have no rights to say no to mining under native title.”

The court has never once found in favour of holders of native title.

the constitution is not silent. It is actively discriminatory, explicitly enabling authorities to enact race-specific laws. This must end.

Native title yes, but still no land rights, The Age July 8, 2015  Sydney Morning Herald columnist, author, architecture critic and essayist

Sacred land must not be dug up and our constitution and laws should assure that. So it’s NAIDOC Week. “We all stand on sacred ground,” protests the starry-eyed tagline. “Learn, respect, celebrate.”

Going by the flood of earnest Indigenous heritage displays, trucked-in smoking ceremonies and family-friendly clips of smiling Koori kids you’d think we meant it. Eighty-five per cent of us, apparently, support removing anti-Aboriginal racism from the constitution. God knows it’s little enough, late enough – but is it also hypocritical?

The most memorable part of that June 22 Q&A program wasn’t Zaky Mallah. It was the nine-minute segment on native title and mining rights. Yet the Mallah story was beaten up nationwide like a thousand-egg free-range souffle, while the land-rights conversation once again sank without trace. Continue reading

July 9, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginal landowners reject coal giant Adani

Adani shown the door by traditional owners, SMH July 4, 201 Business columnist The Wangan and Jagalingou people gathered two weeks ago at a convention centre in Carseldine north of Brisbane.

They were there to vote on a proposal to make sure those responsible for their native title claim were truly representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. These are the traditional owners of the land in the Galilee Basin, precisely where Indian company Adani aims to build Australia’s biggest coal mine, the controversial $16 billion Carmichael project.

Twice in three years, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) had rejected Adani’s advances to sign a land deal for the mine, and twice Adani had dragged them off to the Native Title Tribunal and sought approval for the state to override their opposition to the mine.

It was just after 9am on Saturday, June 20, when two charter buses turned up at the Tavernetta Function Centre in Carseldine. Adani had bussed in 150 people in a sly bid to force consideration of a new memorandum of understanding they claimed to have with W&J, despite the previous ‘no vote’ from W&J. It was an Adani ambush, and it must have cost a fortune: three days of food, accommodation and transport for 150 people.

“We saw the buses turn up and we were wondering what was going on,” says traditional owner and W&J lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba.

“They tried to organise their own meeting after ours in order to get the people to agree to their MoU – a kind of tricked ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement] when they knew they didn’t have one. Right now we’re in the Federal Court precisely because we refused an ILUA and they have tried to override us.”

But Adani’s cunning stunt backfired. They hadn’t counted on their 150 voters changing their minds after impassioned speeches from the likes of Burragubba. W&J tribal elders are deeply concerned about the effect of the mine on their cultural heritage and the risks it poses to water and wildlife.

By the end of the day, Adani’s reps had been asked to leave the meeting. Of the W&J’s 12 “new applicants”, or claim representatives, at least seven were against Adani, despite all the money flying about to skew the vote, and three were in favour. The views of the other two appear in the balance.

Burragubba says Adani has been engaging in tactical skulduggery for years, excluding him from meetings as he represented families which were not in favour of Carmichael.

“They claimed I was disruptive,” he told Fairfax Media.

“But they need all applicants in a meeting to do a deal. So there cannot possibly be a legally binding agreement.

“Adani has been conniving with these other two people [other Indigenous applicants] to try to get an agreement and undermine the Native Title process and our right to free prior informed consent.”

Before the showdown at the Carseldine convention centre, Adani had co-opted two of the W&J applicants, also directors of the trustee for the W&J’s Cato Galilee Trust……….

July 3, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Central Sydney blocked as marchers protest Aboriginal community closures

handsoffAustralia: Sydney streets blocked by protest against Aboriginal community closures Warrior Publications by Calla Wahlquist, The Guardian, June 28, 2015

A protest against the closure of remote Aboriginal communities blocked streets in central Sydney on Sunday, as about 600 people marched against the Western Australian government’s plans to wind back support for communities it deems aren’t viable.

The protest began at Town Hall at 1pm on Sunday and moved toward The Block in Redfern, closing George, Lee, Regent and Lawson Streets on the way. t’s the third national call to action and the sixth time protests have shut down an Australian capital city in protest against the plan to overhaul funding to the state’s 247 remote Aboriginal communities, which the premier, Colin Barnett, has said will result in “significantly fewer” homelands communities remaining open……

At the same time, WA has developed its own “major reforms” for service delivery in remote Aboriginal communities, which is expected to lead to the closure, through withholding services from some communities, of a number of less populated communities over the next few years.

Details are scarce and the full model is yet to be worked out. Nominations for Aboriginal leaders to join the regional working groups intended to steer the reforms closed this month.

Protest organisers, rallied around the #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA hashtag on social media, have been ramping up activities since Friday ahead of July 1 – the day federal funding to WA’s remote communities formally switches over to the state…….

July 1, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Aboriginal People Need A Treaty First- Forget constitutional recognition

text Treaty

A fair go cannot be achieved without a Treaty.

A Treaty would be the basis upon which the sovereign Indigenous people of Australia and the Government could negotiate the terms of rights to land, minerals and resources and the self-governing of communities. It would be a binding agreement that would have sanctions that would deter breaches of the terms of the treaty.

Forget constitutional recognition. It’s not the best option. Let’s do Treaty and let’s do it highly-recommendedright.  Let’s out Australia’s racist past, its attempts at ethnic cleansing, its whitewashing of who did what. The post below comes from Yinarr Yarning: Life, Love, Laughing, Politics and People – the blog of Natalie Cromb.  It is re-posted here with Natalie’s kind permission.

Constitutional Recognition? Treaty First!

Between the Recognise campaign and Noel Pearson’s latest support for a conservative campaign for Declaration of Recognition, one thing is certain, constitutional recognition is on the agenda. Despite noted Indigenous support, these campaigns are looked upon with suspicion mainly because of the fact that the question remains over whether it would affect the sovereignty of Indigenous people, especially with respect to land rights.

In order to effect the changes suggested by the constitutional recognition campaigns, we would need to have a referendum. This would not be our first referendum. Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Fight back against government plans to shut down remote Aboriginal communities

The racist and neo-liberal mindset that drives the present and previous governments’ policies on land rights and remote, self managed communities does not recognise any culture or society that may be based on community or collective principles, or practises ecological land management, developed for this environment over tens of thousands years.

The UN State of the Indigenous Peoples Report (2009) observed that free-market economies have devastated Indigenous peoples worldwide……What is going on with the forced closure of Indigenous communities and the driving of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands has all the hallmarks of a land grab – rolling back the hard won recognition of land rights and native title in Australia.

Australia’s First Nations peoples and their supporters are coming together in unprecedented numbers to fight back against community closures and policies that foster cultural genocide and disempowerment.

Racist land grab  Stand against forced closures of Aboriginal communities! The Guardian Len Waster, 24 June 15  The Abbott Liberal-National government wants to shut down 150 Indigenous communities in remote Australia. Its actions threaten to leave some of Australia’s most vulnerable people without water, electricity or basic services. The remote or homeland communities that are under threat allow Aboriginal people to live on their traditional country, where they can sustain their language, their spiritual connection to land and their culture.

They are among the more than 1,200 small, discrete Indigenous communities in regional and remote Australia, which present policies place under threat of eventual closure and forced eviction.

As long as there are adequate services people experience better health and wellbeing in their homeland communities than when living in larger townships, where social dysfunction and disadvantage are often prevalent. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Traditional Aboriginal owners of Muckaty remain vigilant against nuclear waste dumping

text-wise-owlGovt still looking for nuclear waste site one year after pursuing Muckaty , SBS News,  Today marks one year since the federal government agreed to stop pursuing Muckaty, Northern Territory, as a site to store nuclear waste. By Andrea Booth Source: NITV News


A court case had been battling the issue for nearly 10 years.

The Northern Land Council nominated Muckaty, located 120 kilometres from Tennant Creek, as a site for a dump in 2006 with the Muckaty community to receive a $12 million benefits package. But Warlmanpa and Marumungu people in Muckaty claimed they had not been consulted about the plan.

The threat of a nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal Land continues after the government called for other land owners, councils or organisations to nominate their land for the facility.

The Department of Industry and Science told media this year it remained “committed” to finding a site.

handsoffTraditional owners of Muckaty say they feel they must continue to defend their land and culture from nuclear waste.  Aunty Jeanie Sambo told NITV News that a nuclear waste dump would destroy them. “It will probably poison [everything] that we live [from], like the animals that we hunt and the river that we drink out of,” she said. “It is not good for us.”

Australia produces nuclear waste and sends it overseas as the country does not yet have its own processing facilities. International agreements require that the processed material be returned to Australia.

Australia has about 5,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste.

Protecting Manawangku was filmed through the lead up to a major rally in Tenant Creek against the proposed dump ..

June 20, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

New White Paper on Northern Australia might undermine Indigenous land rights

handsoffDon’t use northern development as ‘Trojan Horse’ to undermine Indigenous land rights, Noel Pearson warns, ABC News By political reporter Anna Henderson, 19 June 15  Influential Cape York Indigenous representative Noel Pearson has warned that development of the north must not be used as a “Trojan Horse” to undermine Indigenous land rights.

The Federal Government has unveiled the northern Australia white paper, a blueprint for policy ideas to develop the sparsely populated region and capitalise on lucrative resources.

The white paper included a section on simplifying land arrangements and a commitment that Indigenous Australians should have the “same opportunities as other Australians to leverage their land assets and generate wealth”.

It also said the Federal Government aimed to have all current native title claims finalised within a decade. Mr Pearson — who attended the Cairns launch of the policy — said the white paper’s reference to expediting native title claims was “certainly welcome”.

“They’re good words,” he said. But he said there have always been concerns that state, territory and federal governments may use the policy to erode progress in the land rights campaign.

 “The concern is that we shouldn’t use the development of the north as a Trojan Horse for undermining the Mabo decision and Indigenous land rights,” he said. “We will never agree to being railroaded by developers.”

The Aboriginal leader also said the policy would not achieve anything if land tenure issues were not addressed…….

June 20, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Aboriginal people distrust new Northern Australia white paper – with good reason

“the conversation should be driven by Aboriginal people, not by the government, and the “devil was in the detail”. “We’ve got to be careful when we look at these words in the white paper that they’re not code for winding back Aboriginal informed consent in those property rights,”

Northern Australia white paper: native title proposals met with distrust, Guardian,  20 June 15  ‘It’s disturbing to suggest that Aboriginal people have either got to surrender their native title or extinguish it to be able to have … a typical western form of title,’ Indigenous leader Joe Morrison says. Changes to native title flagged in the federal government’s white paper on northern Australia are being met with reserved distrust by Indigenous council leaders.

The $1.2bn plan to tap the potential of the north was released on Thursday and included proposals to “simplify” land arrangements in the region, where large sections of land are held under native title or by Indigenous groups. Continue reading

June 19, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Developing North Australia – at the expense of Aboriginal land rights?

The really ‘horrid’ parts of Developing North Australia concern the proposed treatment of exclusive native title and of that hard-won land returned as communal Aboriginal freehold under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. Both represent the highest form of recognition of Aboriginal land interests and both are targets.
handsoffIf governments want to work in a “full partnership” with Aboriginal people in The North then they must stop treating their interests in land as something to be dealt with for the convenience of those governments and the powerful interests behind them.

Abbott’s white paper for the black tropics: Boon or boondoggle? Crikey, 

BOB GOSFORD | JUN 19, 2015 “………Aboriginal people are the fastest-growing demographic, at current rates of population growth, half of the North’s population will be blackfellows by 2050.

So how are Aboriginal interests treated in Developing North Australia? This is the ‘horrid’ part. At page 4 of Developing North Australia we are told that:

Developing the north will need to be done in full partnership with Indigenous Australians, with a focus on creating opportunities through education, job creation and economic development. These opportunities for Indigenous Australians will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Noble sentiments but a reliance on the vexed Indigenous Advancement Strategy rings out some very loud warning bells. The first chapter is entitled “Simpler Land Arrangements to Support Investment” and some elements of the plan are welcome–particularly the fast-tracking of outstanding native title claims for resolution within the next ten years, increased funding for native title representative bodies and modest increased support for indigenous ranger groups and pastoral land use pilot projects. A streamlining of the needlessly complex native title Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) processes, which should be simplified to resemble the standard lease arrangements used widely by the NT land councils, is also welcome.

Overall though, the approach to Aboriginal land interests in Developing North Australia appears very much to be one of “you’ve got something and we want it back.”

This is particularly apparent in the emphasis on “township leasing” that will see control of Aboriginal land in townships–by far the most commercially valuable land in the Aboriginal estate–controlled of a Commonwealth bureaucracy and  measures to “cut red tape” around hard-won cultural heritage protections. The old saw of “Aboriginal home ownership”–creating housing markets in communities largely reliant on welfare income and where no market exists–also gets a run. Continue reading

June 19, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine area oppose any further uranium mining

handsoffGundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, 12 June 15 The Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine area and the site of the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine release this statement following yesterday’s announcements by Energy Resources of Australia and Rio Tinto that ERA will not at this time proceed with the final feasibility study of the proposed Ranger 3 Deeps underground mine.

The Mirarr and the GAC welcome the clarity that yesterday’s announcements provide in terms of the present viability of the Ranger Three Deeps project. We are also pleased that both companies now publicly recognise the importance of adequately financing the rehabilitation of the Ranger site.

First and foremost in our minds is ensuring the permanent protection of the natural and cultural values for which Kakadu is inscribed World Heritage. We need to see a concrete and comprehensive commitment and plan for the clean-up of Kakadu; that commitment and planning needs to start today.

Mirarr have maintained ongoing dialogue with ERA and governments throughout this process and notwithstanding today’s announcement will continue to talk through all relevant issues as necessary. However, as things stand today we will not support any extended term of mining at Ranger beyond 2021.

We take this position because of our experience of 30 years of environmental and cultural impacts at Ranger and because in our talks with Rio Tinto and the Australian government we have been given no guarantee that Ranger will be the last uranium mine in Kakadu. The Mirarr remain fundamentally opposed to Jabiluka’s development – that opposition is intergenerational. We are concerned about the lack of adequate planning for Jabiluka’s final rehabilitation and its incorporation into Kakadu National Park. ____________________________________________________________________________________ For further information contact 08 8979 2200 / 0427 008 765

June 12, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment


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