Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian governments force Aborigines off their remote lands

Env-Aust Cheap in the deep sense: the sorry business of Indigenous affairs  The Conversation Alison Holland Senior Lecturer in Australian History at Macquarie University 16 December 2014,“……..It might be said that the Abbott government’s decision two months on to stop funding essential services in remote communities was one of the first real policy deliveries since that visit. This would be potentially disastrous for these communities, forcing them off country, escalating dislocation and exacerbating problems of health and well-being in communities already under significant threat.

It also has a flow-on effect as without Commonwealth financial support, the states would have to close the communities.

This is not only cheap policy, but it is deeply grounded in history. It rehearses a profoundly entrenched view in some channels of government that these communities cannot continue and are unviable in the long-term. In this sense, pouring in money is wasting resources better spent elsewhere. In an otherwise fraught policy landscape, cheapness has been one of the cold hard facts of Indigenous affairs………….

Commonwealth expenditure in Aboriginal affairs has historically been very poor when compared to the states and when compared to governments around the world who are similarly placed, like those of North America. The lowest levels of expenditure for much of the 20th century was by governments with the largest nomadic populations – that is, remote communities……….

The discussion at that 1937 conference was quite explicit in relation to the remaining “full-blood” people who, at that stage, were still the majority Indigenous population. The very strong inference was that we couldn’t afford them.

The direction of policy after the Second World War was to concentrate on assimilating those classified as “half-caste”. Most of the bureaucrats held the view that, if left to themselves, the “full-blood” Aborigines would simply die out……….

a history of extraordinary parsimony in this policy arena, particularly for remote communities. It also puts the Closing the Gap initiatives of the former Labor government into perspective. In 2008, the Labor government invested A$3.4 billion in Indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory across ten years to address chronic underfunding. Much of this was directed to remote communities.

Since the change of government, and despite being part of COAG’s national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health plan, the Coalition government has reduced fundingsignificantly. It has rationalised 150 programs to five……….

If he really wants to avoid the failures of his predecessors and of being cheap in the deep sense, Abbott will need to restore funding and respect to remote communities. When in Gulkula in September, he was sitting with representatives of one of the oldest living cultures on earth. In the long-term, ensuring its health and survival might well be less expensive – for us all.https://theconversation.com/cheap-in-the-deep-sense-the-sorry-business-of-indigenous-affairs-34591

December 16, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Pope Francis and Bishop Saunders on Australia’s inhumane Aboriginal policies

“Severing the ties of Aboriginal people from their land and thus their culture, spirituality and very foundation of their being, is unethical, immoral, un-Christian and heartless.”

Australia’s human rights record shambolic according to Pope Francis and Bishop Saunders http://thestringer.com.au/australias-human-rights-record-shambolic-according-to-pope-francis-and-bishop-saunders-9207#.VI8joNLF8nk by The StringerDecember 14th, 2014 Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders says Australia’s human rights record is being undermined by inhumane policies. Bishop Saunders pointed to the asylum seeker asylum policies which deny refugees sanctuary and the push by the Western Australian Government to close up to 150 of the State’s 274 homeland (remote) communities. He is also concerned that the South Australian Government may follow Western Australia’s lead and close as many as 100 communities. Continue reading

December 14, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Uranium industry will NOT go ahead in Cape York land, as Aboriginals win land rights

handsoffOlkola reclaim traditional Cape York land after three-decade struggle, Guardian, , 10 Dec 14  More than 6,300 square kilometres of former cattle grazing land in Queensland is formally handed back to Indigenous owners, spelling the end of uranium exploration in the area and the start of a quest to develop tourism opportunities One of the largest returns of land to traditional owners in Queensland’s history has killed off the prospect of uranium mining in a key part of Cape York.

The Olkola, who reclaimed more than 6,300 square kilometres of former cattle grazing land in a formal ceremony on Wednesday, are instead seeking business opportunities in adventure tourism.

Just over 1000 sq km of Olkola land is licensed for uranium exploration by French corporation Areva, which has spoken of north Queensland’s potential to match Kazakhstan as a source for nuclear fuel.

But the deal negotiated by the Olkola has forced Areva to give up its exploration licences in areas given over to a national park, and the clan has no intention of allowing mining elsewhere.

The traditional owners are instead in talks with a global adventure travel agency about a possible joint venture.

It comes just months after the Newman government began to accept uranium mining applications across the state with a view to ending a 25-year ban.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has praised the Olkola people’s move, along with their decision to give over almost a third of their land to a protected national park.

For Mike Ross, the chairman of the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation, the joy of reclaiming country after nearly 30 years of negotiations was tempered by the need to find viable ways for his people to make a living………http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/10/olkola-reclaim-traditional-cape-york-land-after-three-decade-struggle

December 13, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Audio: Push to develop Northern Australia linked to push to dismantle Aboriginal land rights

Hear-This-wayTop End traditional owners fear land rights will be dismantled in push to develop the north (AUDIO) ABC Radio PM Sara Everingham reported this story on Thursday, December 11, 2014  MARK COLVIN: The Northern Land Council says it’s deeply concerned that the push to develop Northern Australia could dismantle hard-fought Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory.

A COAG taskforce met today in Canberra to nut out the detail of its review of Indigenous land administration as part of the white paper on developing Northern Australia.

Sara Everingham reports from Darwin.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In Kakadu National Park, about 80 traditional owners from across the Top End have spent the week in talks as part of the Northern Land Council’s full council meeting………………

The Northern Territory has set up its own working group, with at least eight staff, including former Northern Land Council lawyers.

The Northern Land Council doesn’t know what the review will look at but suspects it will explore greater use of 99 year leases on Aboriginal land.

The council also says it’s been informed by the Federal Government it will revisit an amendment to the Northern Territory Land Rights Act which would devolve powers of the land councils to smaller Indigenous corporations.

The deputy Land Council chairman John Daly says traditional owners must be consulted.

JOHN DALY: We’ve got a Prime Minister for Indigenous Australia and they put out press releases prior to them winning the elections that they would have no reviews, no amendments to the Land Rights Act and things like that, Native Title, without the consent of traditional owners and the land councils. ……http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4147070.htm?site=indigenous&topic=latest

December 13, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Audiovisual, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Federal govt watering down Aboriginal land rights, betrayal by Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Nigel Scullion

handsoffNorthern Land Council accuses Senator Nigel Scullion of breaking election promise on land rights, ABC News  By the National Reporting Team’s Kate Wild 11 Dec 14 Australia’s largest Aboriginal land council has accused Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Nigel Scullion of breaking a promise that the Coalition, if it won government, would not review or amend the Land Rights Act.

Holding a copy of Senator Scullion’s press release, titled No changes to NT Land Rights and dated August 14, 2013, Northern Land Council (NLC) deputy chairman John Daly accused the Minister of proposing a review of land rights legislation without the consent of traditional owners.

“Prior to him getting in as the Minister, this here says he wasn’t going to do any reviews or anything like that without the consent of traditional owners and the land council,” he said.

Really there isn’t, and hasn’t been, any conversation with Aboriginal people about the future of the Land Rights Act.

Joe Morrison, NLC chief executive

“And this is just another broken promise from this government.”

The comments were made today at a full council meeting that Senator Scullion did not attend………..

NLC’s questions are ‘pressing for the nation’

NLC chief executive Joe Morrison said council members wanted to put questions to the Minister they believed were “pressing for the nation”.

These included Federal Government plans to water down the Land Rights Act, pressure on Aboriginal towns to sign 99 year leases, and the Federal Government’s use of Aboriginal money earned from mining royalties, he said.…………. Continue reading

December 13, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Aboriginal atomic test survivor speaks at Vienna Conference

TRANSCRIPT  Speech by Sue Coleman-Haseldine http://www.icanw.org/campaign-news/australia/australian-test-survivor-to-speak-in-vienna/ – 8 December 2014 Rosemary Lester, who was originally going to speak here, became too ill to travel to Vienna. She sent me instead and said to “tell it as it is”.

I was born on Koonibba Aboriginal Mission in 1951. From east to west, Koonibba is in the middle of Australia but right down south where the desert meets the sea.

Atomic bomb tests began in the desert areas north of my birthplace in 1953 when I was two years old. First at Emu Fields and then Maralinga.

The area was picked because the British and Australian governments didn’t think our land was valuable. But Aboriginal people were still looking after and living off the land.

There are lots of different Aboriginal groups in Australia. For all of us our land is the basis of our culture. It is our supermarket for our food, our pharmacy for our medicine, our school and our church.

Aboriginal people have special places throughout Australia, including in the vast arid areas. Looking after these places is our religion.

Our old people remember the good life of hunting for wild game and collecting bush fruits. Life was healthy.

There were still Aboriginal people living and travelling this way in the Emu Field and Maralinga region when the bomb tests started.

The government was no good at ensuring everyone was safe.

Australia was even more racist then. At this time Aboriginal people did not even have the right to vote. The government really didn’t care what happened to Aboriginal people.

Many people died and became sick in the immediate test areas. So did the animals. We shouldn’t forget about the animals.

The first atomic bomb called “Totem 1” spread far and wide and there are lots of stories about the “black mist” it created, which killed, blinded and made people very sick.

The bomb tests continued for many years right until 1963. Big atomic tests that the British and Australian governments were proud of and then a whole lot of secret tests that the British did with plutonium.

These tests contaminated a huge area and everything in it but people hundreds of kilometres away were also impacted. This includes my family and the broader community where I live.

I remember older people talking about Nullabor dust storms. It was the fallout from the Maralinga tests.

We weren’t on ground zero, but the dust didn’t stay in one place. It went wherever the winds took it.

I noticed people dying of cancer, something that was new to us.

There’s a cemetery at Woomera which we call the children’s cemetery. It’s filled with children who died around the time of the tests. And these were just the non-Aboriginal children.

There’s no record of how many Aboriginal children died. The Aboriginals were not allowed to be buried in white cemeteries.

In 2006 I went to an Australian Nuclear Free Alliance meeting to learn more about radiation fallout. What I learnt devastated me. To find out that our bush foods were possibly contaminated was a real blow to me.

It was at these meetings I also learnt about other nuclear bombs. About other places where tests happened and also more about Japan during the war.

I also learnt that uranium mined in Australia was used in these weapons of destruction. To know that uranium from our country was devastating other countries and people was a horrible lesson for me. I decided to fight any kind of mining then.

There are too many cancer deaths in our Country. I believe it is caused from radiation contamination, but I can’t prove it. I think any kind of mining in our area would be digging up contaminated earth and sending it back to us on the north, north-west winds.

I am not the only one to notice the sickness and death that remains in this part of Australia. It doesn’t matter if you’re Aboriginal or not, or as I say Black, White or Brindle, everyone has a sad story about premature sickness and death in their families.

Cancer is the big one but it is also common for people to suffer from thyroid conditions. This is the case for myself and one of my granddaughters.

Fertility problems, still births, birth defects became more common at the time of the testing.

But even today we wonder if women have trouble because of the ongoing radiation in the area or genetic changes passed down through generations.

Not knowing the true impact of the nuclear tests causes a lot of anguish and we would like to have answers and hopefully find some solutions. We don’t want others to suffer as we have.

The bombs have destroyed a large part of Australia and despite several attempts it will never be safe or clean.

There are many Aboriginal people who cannot go back to their ancestral lands and their children and their children’s children and so on will never know the special religious places it contains.

Having whole displaced communities has also created confusion and conflict between Aboriginal groups. These are ongoing issues which cause stress and heartbreak. 

Thank you for listening about our situation in Australia. We are telling the story so that our history is not forgotten but also to create a better future for all people, all over the world.

This is why we want nuclear weapons permanently banned and the uranium that can create them left in the ground.  

If you love your own children and care for the children of the world, you will find the courage to stand up and say “enough”.

Always keeping in mind that the future forever belongs to the next generation.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Shutting down Australia’s Aboriginal areas -(opening lands up for what?)


heartland.Shutting down Australia’s Aboriginal areas
, Aljazeera, New funding laws threaten the existence of remote indigenous communities already facing profound social issues.  
 07 Dec 2014 Perth, Australia - The West Australian state government may bulldoze 150 remote indigenous communities that it says are too expensive to keep open under a new funding arrangement between federal and state authorities.

Canberra has offered each state a one-time, lump-sum payment to take over the responsibility of financing remote Aboriginal communities indefinitely.

In an ultimatum, Western Australia was offered $90m, enough to fund remote communities through to 2017.

But as of June 30, 2015, past federal funding agreements will end, effectively giving Western Australia authorities about seven months before they must start working out how to fund remote communities in the future – and which ones will have to close. 

Similar arrangements have been made with South Australian, Queensland, Victorian and Tasmanian state governments.

All have so far remained silent on the details with the exception of South Australia, which rejected a $10m payment on the basis that it was not enough for the obligation being created.

South Australia’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Ian Hunter warned if his government was forced to accept the new arrangement, 60 remote communities – home to 4,000 people – would have to close.

Futures in question

So far, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has taken a cautionary tone, telling Al Jazeera it is “still very early”, while admitting that community closures are inevitable……………

The fear is that changes to federal policy and funding arrangements that have raised the possibility of community closures only threatens to derail any achievements made to date.

That such closures may occur around the country is also what has lead the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP) to label the issue one of the “most significant” facing Australia’s indigenous peoples to date.

“This is about our people’s right to stay on our land,” NCAFP co-chair Kirstie Parker told Al Jazeera. “People are very frightened that the days are numbered and their communities will be closed.”

In an effort to address the issue, Parker and her co-chair Les Malezer called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to act in an open letter last week, but so far they have not received a response.

For others such as Tammy Solonec, Amnesty International Australia’s (AIA) indigenous peoples rights manager, there are serious questions about the Western Australia government’s ability to properly manage the transition………….

Lessons to be learned

The risk now is that the experience of Oombulgurri’s closure may be repeated across the country, and for Solonec this would be the worst case scenario.

“We can never let it happen again. If we’re going to talk about closing communities, we need to do it in a better way,” said Solonec.

What’s needed she said are “creative solutions” to actually solve the profound social issues within some remote communities, and prevent people being removed from their land.

Her view is echoed by Parker, who said self-determination is the key and closing down communities merely on the basis that they are “dysfunctional” will not solve problems, but only push them onto other communities.

“Our communities are left wondering about the future of our communities and of our children,” said Parker.

“This scenario doesn’t address the problems in our communities everyone knows are there, it doesn’t deal with the people. To do that you sit down and talk with them.” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/12/shutting-down-australia-aboriginal-areas-2014124124749741868.html

December 8, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Media excluded, Aboriginals protest, as Minerals Council meets in Darwin

text-aboriginal-rightsTraditional owners target Minerals Council  HERALD SUN, NEDA VANOVAC AAP DECEMBER 04, 2014   ABORIGINAL traditional owners have heckled government and mining industry representatives at a Minerals Council summit, calling for an end to mining on their lands. ABOUT 30 traditional owners and family members drove to Darwin from Maningrida, with some driving all night to make the 1400km from Borroloola by morning.

Conrad Rory, a Yanyula and Garrawa man from Borroloola, told AAP the MacArthur River Mine near his community was having a detrimental impact on the tidal river. The mine’s independent monitor reported last year that 90 per cent of fish caught downstream of the mine exceeded maximum permitted concentrations of metals and isotopes as outlined by the national food standards guidelines.

“What we’re really hoping to accomplish is shutting down the mine,” Mr Rory said. “Since they diverted the river it’s been flowing really slow, the colour’s changed, we’ve found dead fish and crabs.”

Jackie Green, an elder from Borroloola, was critical of mine operators he saw as plundering Aboriginal land and then moving on………. Mr Green accused the government of separating families to obtain consent for mining on Aboriginal land.”They grab one Aboriginal person and take him aside and chuck a chocolate across his table and he eats that and other Aboriginal people don’t know what’s going on.”Five police cars were sent to monitor the small protest, and the doors to Darwin’s convention centre were locked.Media were barred from attending sessions with industry leaders such as Andrea Sutton, CEO of Energy Resources of Australia, and Sam Strohmayr, general manager of Glencore……… http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/traditional-owners-target-minerals-council/story-fni0xqi4-1227144612565

December 5, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

For the Mirrar Aboriginal people, a new era may be opening up, if ERA’s Ranger uranium mine finally closes

kakaduUranium mining in Kakadu at a crucial point, SMH,  29 Nov 14    Resources reporter “……..place facing an uncertain future. Jabiru is a town in limbo.  Four decades after arriving, uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) will decide soon whether it will continue digging here. There is a chance it will choose not to,  which will bring down the curtain on perhaps nation’s most controversial mine, Ranger.

Built on the faultlines of environmental and indigenous land rights policy, Ranger is at a defining moment. It has provided fuel to nuclear power stations of the world but the end of its working life is in doubt.

Depressed commodity prices, revived environmental concerns and tightening purse strings have made the decision over a new mining development at Ranger a close call………

The end of mining at Ranger would be cause for celebration for some. Continue reading

November 29, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, business, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Indigenous leaders’s at First Nations Summit for Freedom

Federal government cuts to Aboriginal legal services and frontline organisations and attempts by state and territory governments to water down land rights and other Indigenous legislation are also on the agenda

Indigenous leaders to meet at First Nations Summit for Freedom, Guardian, , 27 Nov 14  Summit aims to reclaim Indigenous rights agenda and representation from a few high-profile voices First nations leaders and elders are holding a summit to establish a community-elected committee which would reclaim Indigenous rights and Mundine-and-Abbottrepresentation from a few high-profile voices.

About 100 people from across the country are expected to gather at the First Nations Summit for Freedom to discuss the major issues facing Indigenous people and address a feeling that the federal government is not speaking with Indigenous people when making decisions which have a direct impact on them.

The summit is being held on Thursday and Friday at the Old Telegraph Station in Mparntwe/Alice Springs. The site is the birthplace of the Aboriginal social activist Charlie Perkins.

“This is all about the local issues first and how the national agenda is responding to them, and how we’re not very happy about it,” said one of the summit organisers, Tauto Sansbury.

Sansbury pointed to attempts by the WA government to amend the Aboriginal Heritage Act, stripping traditional owners of a say over the cultural heritage value of their land and sacred sites, as well as a recent announcement that remote communities would likely be closed.

“The heritage act is having a big impact on Western Australia,” Sansbury, who is a long time Aboriginal advocate and was heavily involved in the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, told Guardian Australia.

“The closures of the communities over there … Aboriginal people are going to be removed off their land and there are suggestions that the SA government is thinking along the same lines.”

Federal government cuts to Aboriginal legal services and frontline organisations and attempts by state and territory governments to water down land rights and other Indigenous legislation are also on the agenda…………….http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/27/indigenous-leaders-to-meet-at-first-nations-summit-for-freedom

November 29, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginal struggles to save beautiful Kakadu from uranium mining

kakaduThe Dog Catcher of Jabiru,  About Place Journal, Margaret Spence 24 Nov 14 “……….Uranium was discovered in Kakadu in 1953 and for the next decade much of the ore was bought by British and American governments for the development of atomic weapons. If the Aborigines knew of the potential fate of their ancestral earth, their objections were overruled.

But the nineteen seventies were a period of change for civil rights, and Aboriginal people campaigned to have their lands returned to them. In stages, the Australian Federal Government acquired title to the tracts of land that had been taken over the years by private, non-Aboriginal settlers. The land was returned to Traditional Owners under the newly established Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) and most of it was leased to the Commonwealth to become the joint managed Kakadu National Park.

Koongarra

Three areas were excised from the National Park due to the presence of significant uranium deposits. While this land was granted to Traditional Owners as Aboriginal Land, the legal right to veto mining projects which the new laws provided was explicitly removed in the case of Ranger uranium mine and mining commenced there in 1981 against the clear opposition of the Mirarr Traditional Owners……… Continue reading

November 26, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, history, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Western Australian government’s high-handed changes to Aboriginal Heritage Act anger traditional owners

handsoffTraditional owners rally against changes to WA Aboriginal Heritage Act, Guardian, , 290 Nov 14 Proposed amendments could see owners stripped of say over sacred site listings, which will have lower standards than buildings Proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act in Western Australia could see traditional owners stripped of any say over the heritage listing of their sacred sites in a lowering of standards compared to built heritage sites.

A representation of about 50 traditional owners from across Western Australia travelled to Perth to deliver a petition signed by 1,600 people calling for the amendment to be dropped and redrafted. Ten people also met with the Aboriginal affairs minister, Peter Collier, to discuss their concerns.

The proposed amendments would give the final say on the heritage value of cultural sites on Aboriginal land to the CEO and minister of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, speeding up the approval process for mining and development applications. There would be no avenue for appeal by Indigenous groups, the delegation said.

They also said there has been no consultation with Indigenous people in the designing of the amendment, which has no requirement for an Indigenous person to be on the Aboriginal cultural materials committee and has removed a previous requirement for at least one anthropologist.

“We want the legislation removed, brought back to the table and properly negotiated and consulted on with Aboriginal people,” Simon Hawkins, CEO of the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, told Guardian Australia.

“We want the legislation to reflect modern legislation in other states in terms of how they manage cultural heritage issues … even just brought up to the standard of built heritage legislation of WA, which has very strong controls on conservation management, protection, education on sites. Why is cultural Aboriginal heritage treated so differently and [with] such lower standards? We don’t understand that, it seems so unfair.”……..

The delegation follows a meeting of 250 traditional owners, elders and community members in Port Hedland in September, to which the minister was invited but did not attend…….

The chair of the Kimberley Land Council, Anthony Watson, was left still wary of the government’s plans after the meeting.

“We pushed the minister to try and have the discussion, but due to the timeframe it looks like they have their mind set [on introducing the bill]. It’s a very dangerous the position we’re in,” Watson told Guardian Australia.

“If the bill is getting pushed through, rushed through, without consultation then it’s discriminatory and there is going to be problems across our region for Aboriginal people.”……….http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/20/traditional-owners-rally-against-changes-to-wa-aboriginal-heritage-act?utm_source=PoliticOz&utm_campaign=2cdc26cb18-PoliticOZ_21_November_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_673b6b002d-2cdc26cb18-302705445

November 26, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

After a priceless gift to the nation Kakadu Traditional Owner just wants a house on his country

Kirsten Blair, 19 Nov 14 Jeffrey Lee spoke powerfully about his work to protect Koongarra from mining at the closing plenary of the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney yesterday and received a standing ovation. People were coming up to him all day congratulating and thanking him for his efforts, he was gracious and generous as ever.

Lee,Jeffrey Kakadu is Australia’s largest National Park and is dual World Heritage listed for both its natural and cultural values. Encompassing tropical wetlands, extensive savannah and soaring sandstone escarpments and waterfalls this region has been sculptured and shaped by people and nature for many tens of thousands of years.

Jeffrey Lee, the Senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan in Kakadu fought for many years to see his country at Koongarra protected from the threat of uranium mining.

In 2011 he made the long journey from Kakadu to Paris to see the World Heritage Committee include Koongarra in the World Heritage estate and in 2013 the area was formally included within Kakadu National Park and permanently protected from uranium mining.

For decades Jeffrey was pressured to allow uranium mining on his land at Koongarra and for decades he resisted – refusing millions of dollars in promised mining payments. Now he is seeking something. After generously allowing his land to be included in Kakadu National Park Jeffrey has a modest ask of the Australian Government in return: please build a house on his country.

Today Jeffrey spoke to thousands of delegates at the closing plenary of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress in Sydney and told the story of his long fight to protect Koongarra. He concluded by calling on the Australian Government to come good on their promise to build him a house on his country.

“I have said no to uranium mining at Koongarra because I believe that the land and my cultural beliefs are more important than mining and money. Money comes and goes, but the land is always here, it always stays if we look after it and it will look after us.” said Jeffrey Lee

“While I’m down here at this Congress, I want to tell people about Koongarra and remind the Government that I did all that work to protect that country. All I’m asking is for a place to live on my country. I don’t want to wait until I’ve passed away, I want to live on my county now.

“I don’t want the Government to forget me, they came to visit me, they congratulated me on my hard work and said they will support me in this. The Government knows how hard I worked, they gave me an Order of Australia and I’m happy for that. Now I just want a commitment from them for a house so I can live on that country that I fought for.”

November 23, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginals rally against closure of 150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia

Protests against closure of 150 Aboriginal communities, Green Left   Saturday, November 22, 2014 By Alex SalmonPerth

Aboriginal activists rallied on the steps of parliament house in Perth on November 12 to protest against the Western Australian government’s plan to close 150 remote Aboriginal communities. The rally also condemned the federal government’s plan to cut funding to 180 remote indigenous communities in Western Australia. Bropho, from the Swan Valley Nyungah community, told the rally: “Closing down these communities will only make more people homeless and [in] despair.

“The way we choose to live should be our choice. We shouldn’t have the domination of government people telling us how to live and where to live. We will fight to get our community and our land back. Our fight will continue.”

In an open letter to Colin Barnett on November 17, Nyungah activist Iva Hayward Jackson said that only a small amount of the revenue from the mining would be needed to cover the costs of maintaining these communities and other improvements and that “it’s only fair to share in the richness of the land with the idea of equality in the treatment of Aboriginal people.

“After all, Aboriginal people are the traditional ‘owners’ of the land and waterways that holds all the precious resources that made Australia a rich and wealthy country in the modern world.” Amnesty International released a statement urging the Western Australian government not to forcibly evict Aboriginal people from the communities, as demolishing houses and denying indigenous people the right to practice their culture is a breach of human rights and international law.

Tammy Solonec, a human rights lawyer working with Amnesty International, slammed the hypocrisy of Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett for admitting that closing the communities will be traumatic for the people involved, while continuing a policy that will force indigenous people to break their connections to land and culture and force them to move to larger towns where they will have greater exposure to drugs, alcohol, violence and crime……….https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57858

November 23, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Traditional Aboriginal owners at Muckaty gear up for renewed fight against nuclear waste dumping

MuckatyhandsoffMuckaty landowners say nuclear dump fight is ‘back to square one’ http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/13/muckaty-landowners-say-nuclear-dump-fight-is-back-to-square-one   in Darwin The owners feel the only way to protect the station is for it to be within the borders of the neighbouring Central Land Council The proposal of a second site for nuclear dumping at Muckaty Station sends the fight “back to square one,” traditional landowners say. They feel the only way to protect the area is to be within the borders of the neighbouring Central Land Council, which decided not to make a nomination last week due to local opposition.

Last week the case for a storage facility on Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory was reopened when one of the clan groups proposed a second parcel of land, just months after a bitter seven-year dispute appeared to have ended.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) had abandoned its nomination to the federal government to store low and intermediate radioactive waste in the area north of Tennant Creek as part of a settlement reached outside the federal court. It is now considering the new proposal.

One of the traditional owners, Dianne Stokes, told Guardian Australia the new proposal takes the fight “back to square one.” Continue reading

November 15, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

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