Australian news, and some related international items

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

Northern Territory Government fails to act on radioactive spill by Energy resources of Australia

June 6, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Solidarity between Indigenous Australians and Canadians in fighting fossil fuel pollution

“We are here because we also believe making strong relations with First Nations around the world is essential to the fight with the fossil fuel industry,” said Johnson. “The fossil fuel industry is not the wave of the future.”

The Wangan and Jagalingou people have twice refused to give consent for the mine, despite the company’s offer of compensation for loss of property, said Burragubba.

But Adani is taking the company’s case to Australia’s tribal land court to try to override the objections. That would allow the state to grant the lease. “We do not intend to give consent and no amount of compensation will get us to give consent,” said Johnson.

Aboriginal group fighting massive Australian coal mine consults with Alberta First Nations  BY SHEILA PRATT, EDMONTON JOURNAL JUNE 3, 2015 On Adrian Burragubba’s ancestral lands in Australia — arid pasture land, beautiful mountains, rivers and clear springs — the world’s second-largest coal mine would devastate the wildlife and the land, he says.

“We’re the messengers here to tell the world together we can stop this mine,” Burragubba said Wednesday.

Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson have come to Alberta to learn from Alberta First Nations who have struggled to protect land, wildlife and water in the middle of vast open-pit oilsands mines in the boreal forest.

The $16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine, proposed by Indian conglomerate Adani, Continue reading

June 6, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

SBS examines 23 years of native title in Australia – on Mabo Day

Mabo Day: 23 years of native title in Australia SBS News 3 June 15 Today is Mabo Day, marking the ruling 23 years ago that made claiming land rights possible for Indigenous Australians. See how far native title claims have come with this map and timeline. By  Jason Thomas

On June 3, 1992 the High Court of Australia overtuned the notion of Australia being ‘terra nullius’ (nobody’s land) before settlement. The Mabo decision, as it become known, followed a decade-long legal battle by Eddie Mabo and several others to have their land rights recognised.

Edward Koiki Mabo was born at Mer (Murray Island) where Meriam people are the traditional custodians of the land……..

A history of native title in Australia………

June 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Tour of French art – Aboriginal life before colonisation

Rare French paintings of Tasmanian Aboriginal life before colonisation to tour Australia, ABC News, By Sam Ikin 19 May 2015, A collection of 19th century French illustrations depicting Indigenous life in Tasmania and around mainland Australia before British colonisation will go on show in the state for the first time next year.

The drawings and sketches were done in early 1802 during Nicholas Baudin’s exploration of Australia.

The French explorer’s artists, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicholas-Martin Petit, meticulously documented their meetings with local Aboriginal people when they landed in Tasmania.

The pictures are owned by France’s Museum of Natural History in La Havre and will tour the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), Launceston’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and several other Australian galleries next year and in 2017………The French museum’s director Cedric Cremiere said he was proud to be able to show the works in Australia.

“It is wonderful that after that first French encounter with Australia more than 200 years ago, we can share these discoveries and sense of wonder with Australian audiences.” he said.

Tasmanian Arts Minister Vanessa Goodwin said the artworks were of huge importance to Tasmania.

“This partnership will allow audiences across Tasmania to see depictions of early Tasmanian life which are of enormous significance to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the Tasmanian community in general,” she said.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australia’s Aboriginals again threatened by nuclear radiation

handsoffNuclear-hit Aborigines again in radiation danger Verfasst von: Diet Simon, sourcing from beyond nuclear news roundup (Account: Nuclear Worrier). Verfasst am: 25.05.2015

Buried in Australia’s soil is a third of Earth’s uranium, the largest reserve in the world. This means there’s big money in mining it. But standing on it are Indigenous Australians with native title rights to that land. The Martu people, only numbering only around 1,000, own around 136,000 square kilometres in Western Australia. On the other side of the dispute is the world’s largest uranium company Cameco, an industry leading uranium and processing services company headquartered in Canada,which in collaboration with Mitsubishi, want to extend the Kintyre mine in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia. It bears the name of an area cut out of WA’s largest and most remote national park for mining in 1994.

 Darren Farmer, a burly middle-aged Martu tribal man, told VICE online magazine that “the Martu people do not want this uranium mine. Everybody has said no.” But that hasn’t stopped the federal environment minister Greg Hunt from givingKintyre the green light.

The VICE article explains how poverty prompts some Martu to agree to mining on their country and how Darren Farmer and others are physically assaulted for opposing it.

Meanwhile four decades after test explosions of atom bombs in the Maralinga desert area of South Australia, which killed and maimed Aboriginal people, Indigenous people face barriers as they try to contribute to a parliamentary inquiry whether the state should start a nuclear fuel cycle industry.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINA requirement for all submissions to be sworn in front of a justice of the peace makes it particularly difficult for Aboriginal people, people from remote areas and those with language issues to present their views.

The former Governor [Queen Elizabeth’s representative] of South Australia, Kevin Scarce, who heads the inquiry, is to inspect the Fukushima region of Japan,ravaged by nuclear reactor explosions.

One of the things the inquiry will consider is the storage of nuclear waste from other countries. The federal government is currently looking for a site to dump six cubic metres of nuclear waste that must return to Australia from France for processing this year.

The federal government had previously targeted Aboriginal-owned sites in the Northern Territory, including Muckaty Station, where agreements with Aboriginal governance fell through or stalled. Aboriginal women’s resistance also stopped a 2003 plan by the federal government to dump nuclear waste in South Australia.

The French state-owned nuclear giant Areva is offering to sell its ‘world leading’ nuclear technology to South Australia. “The offer is being reported in the South Australian media without a hint of irony,” comments leading anti-nuclear Australian activist, Jim Green. “A reality check is in order.”

Two former Australian prime ministers, one each from the Liberal [in name only, actually right-of-centre conservative] and Labor [only nominally left] parties have said it would be a good idea for Australia to take in all the world’s nuclear waste. Guess on whose lands.


May 26, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Nuclear Royal Commission, South Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal cultural heritage depends on remaining on homelands

Env-AustIf Aboriginal people are forced off their land, who will pass down the stories?, Guardian,  22 May 15 Imagine what an unbroken link to the land, thousands of years old, feels like. IndigenousX host Kelly Briggs on keeping the light of culture burning bright “…………….  People in this town work tirelessly to reinvigorate our languages, keep our stories strong and pass strength on through keeping the lights of pride in our culture burning bright.

You don’t find these people in newspapers, at award ceremonies or talking about Aboriginal issues on TV. You find them quietly going about their business lifting up the community. Away from the glare of what is now becoming to be known as “the Aboriginal industry”. There are many towns spread across Australia like mine, trying to reconnect with culture. Be it through languages, story revival or identifying places of Aboriginal significance – this is happening. Research shows that people who are connected to their cultural heritage are happier.

Continue reading

May 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment


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