Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Huge Aboriginal death toll when Europeans invaded – should be recognised

Australian War Memorial should recognise revised Aboriginal death toll: researcher, Brisbane Times July 17, 2014  Brisbane Times and Sun-Herald journalist New research that has calculated an Aboriginal death toll of more than 65,000 in Queensland alone during the so-called frontier wars has renewed calls for formal recognition at the Australian War Memorial.

But the AWM in Canberra has dismissed the idea, saying recognition should instead be in the National Museum.

The research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference last week at the University of Queensland, estimated 66,680 deaths between 1788 and 1930.

Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous, which is more than six times what was previously thought. The report’s co-author, historian Professor Raymond Evans, said the calculations were based on official records, witnesses’ reports and the number of patrols undertaken by the colonial Queensland government’s Native Police.

Professor Evans said the 65,180 figure was “conservative” and could be as high as 115,000.

“This is just Queensland – imagine what the nation-wide figure could be,” he said.

“If you say it’s a war, you at least allow the fact that Aboriginal people fought hard to defend their lands, so you can say they were warriors and they were fighting for their country. “They were fighting for Australia, for their land.”

Professor Evans said the estimated death toll was at least on a par with Australian casualties during World War I.

“The Australian War Memorial should recognise this as a war. It’s got such a high death rate, it was fought over a long period of time and it was fought between different communities, different nations, for territory,” he said.

“It’s a fight for land and territorial possession and it has many features of warfare and, of course, a huge death rate.” http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/australian-war-memorial-should-recognise-revised-aboriginal-death-toll-researcher-20140716-ztqr6.html#ixzz388vSgyg2

July 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Queensland | Leave a comment

History of the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping in South Australia

South-Australia-nuclearhandsoffThe nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014 Dumping on South Australia “……….The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia.

Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws.

In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”.

The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. ‘Terra nullius’!

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

Victory in the Federal Court

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that.

In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election – after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA – the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications – it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby.

Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005:

“My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.”

Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that “we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country” and that “we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this”…….. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

 

 

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Maralinga: Australia’s cheap and nasty treatment of Aboriginal people

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal peopleEcologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014  Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back! The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.

Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.

Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called ‘Native Patrol Officers’ patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place – with little success.

‘Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by“ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.

As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Despite the residual contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners.

The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the ‘clean-up’ was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.” ………..http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

In Australia Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014 Nuclear war“……….Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; ‘humbugging’ Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA.

The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said:

“BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.”

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed.

New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process ofgutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry.

Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

Most of those laws are supported by the Liberal / National Coalition and Labor. Radioactive racism in Australia enjoys bipartisan support.

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues – and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-ledAustralian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of Nuclear Monitor.

Nuclear Monitor has been publishing deeply researched, often strongly critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!   http://www.wiseinternational.org/node/36  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Warren Mundine, Abbott’s appointed Aboriginal adviser plans to sue Fairfax media

Warren Mundine planning to sue Fairfax http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/warren-mundine-planning-to-sue-fairfax/story-fn9hm1pm-1226987562386?nk=e4daf2d0c04499e73040ec23369e096b# THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 14, 2014 12:00AM 
Victoria Editor Melbourne
THE Prime Minister’s senior ­indigenous adviser, Warren Mundine, plans to sue Fairfax after he was accused of brokering a “highly questionable deal” that gave a mining company ­access to an Aboriginal sacred site in Western Australia.

“The allegations against me published in Fairfax Media last weekend are false,” Mr Mundine says in the statement to be ­released today.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Need for transparency in Australia’s Aboriginal policy

Mundine-and-AbbottFirst principles owed to our first people July 14, 2014 The Age Transparency, accountability and rigorous governance are tenets of good public and corporate policy. Without them, there can be little confidence that outcomes will be decent and fair, let alone optimal.

The Age‘s investigative team on Saturday revealed that conflicts of interest compromised the process and outcome of a land deal that gave a mining company access to an Aboriginal sacred site in Western Australia. The evidence raises concerns that the traditional owners of the land, the Martu people, have shamefully been denied the financial benefits they ought to have received.

It also casts doubt on the judgment and suitability of the federal government’s indigenous policy supremo, former ALP national president and head of the Indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine, because a company he part owned and of which he was a director helped broker the deal. The company, Indigenous Investment Management Pty Ltd (IIM), was appointed by mining company Reward Minerals to negotiate the deal to mine for potash at Lake Disappointment with the organisation supposed to be representing the Martu people’s interest, the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation.

The probity of the deal is brought into question by a clear potential conflict of interest: the chief financial officer of the corporation also held shares in IIM. IIM succeeded in getting the corporation to abandon its opposition to allowing the mining company access to the sacred site. Further, confidential advice to the corporation’s board from its lawyers said the negotiation process had “no validity” and had put directors and executives at risk of breaching legal obligations to act honestly and eschew self-interest.

Mr Mundine’s integrity and competence need to be seen to be beyond reproach, as his national leadership role involves a delicate balance. He is seeking to prevent the corruption that can sully indigenous organisations receiving mining money, while promoting Aboriginal economic development by opening up more land…….

In coming days, Mr Mundine and Prime Minister Tony Abbott are meeting to discuss a report that could revolutionise the participation of indigenous people in the economy. This newspaper considers improving the lot of Australia’s indigenous people one of the most pressing issues for our nation. Our investigation casts doubt on Mr Mundine’s authority to lead such overdue and crucial change.
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/first-principles-owed-to-our-first-people-20140713-3buyq.html#ixzz37mmeLw4r

July 17, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Doubts about legal advice to Aborigines about Lake Disappointment mining deal

justiceLegal advice questioned controversial mining deal: http://www.smh.com.au/national/legal-advice-questioned-controversial-mining-deal-20140715-ztbnd.html#ixzz37mgd7Zbq July 15, 2014 Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie More legal advice has emerged questioning the process that led to a controversial deal between a West Australian aboriginal corporation and a mining company.

Fairfax Media has obtained advice from a third in-house lawyer for the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation which cast doubt over the process that lead to a deal with Reward Minerals to mine a Martu sacred site in outback WA called Lake Disappointment.

At the weekend, Fairfax Media revealed how two other in-house lawyers for the Western Desert corporation wrote an explosive July, 2011 memo warning that a soon-to-be signed deal with Reward had “no validity”, in part because the corporation’s board and executives had, in their opinion, not acted in the best interests of the Martu people.

A 2009 email reveals that a separate in-house lawyer for the corporation also raised concerns about the Martu people not having given “proper informed consent” to an in-principle agreement signed with Reward to mine Lake Disappointment a year earlier.

In March, 2009, the Western Desert corporation’s then in-house lawyer, Christina Araujo, emailed acting chief executive Tony Wright to advise that she was not “prepared to state that I believe WDLAC has the informed consent of the common law holders” because it could put her practising certificate at risk.

“Tony, further to our conversation on the 6th of March, I am confirming in writing concerns I have in relation to the Reward negotiations,” Ms Araujo wrote. “Apart from my personal observations, I have also had discussions with a number of others who were also of the view that proper informed consent is or may be lacking.

“Going through the files, it appears Katherine Hill [another legal adviser], on numerous occasions provided advice on proper informed consent and it is noted in a file note dated 16/10/2007 that she spoke to Joe Procter and Clinton Wolf about her concern that people did not seem to understand there was a mining proposal over Lake Disappointment.

“It does not appear in the files that the matter was discussed in detail with the common law holders … it is an issue for WDLAC if we do not have informed consent for the Reward matter. Any agreement which may result may be invalid.”

Mr Procter was a consultant helping the Western Desert corporation negotiate the initial 2008 deal and Mr Wolf was then the corporation’s chief executive.

Ms Araujo’s March, 2009 email came at the same time the Native Title Tribunal heard Martu elders testify about the cultural significance of the Lake Disappointment site.

The tribunal was asked to rule on Reward’s proposal after relations between the mining company and the Western Desert corporation stalled in mid-2008 amid an argument over legal costs. In a historic ruling, the tribunal rejected Reward’s bid on the basis of Lake Disappointment’s cultural importance to the Martu people. It was the first time the tribunal had refused a mining company’s application.

But, as reported by Fairfax Media at the weekend, the Western Desert corporation altered it stance on the Reward proposal in 2011, despite strong doubts from another set of in-house lawyers about the negotiation process not being conducted in the best interests of the Martu people.

Ms Araujo’s successors as the Western Desert corporation’s in-house lawyers warned that the Reward negotiation process had in their opinion put the corporation in breach of most of its legal obligations as the trustee body for Martu people.

In a January, 2011 announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Reward revealed it had in late 2010 approached the Western Desert corporation to re-open talks over Lake Disappointment.

On April 1, 2011, Reward announced to the ASX: “Reward has appointed Azure Capital and its affiliate Indigenous Investment Management (IIM) as advisers to assist in discussions with the Martu traditional owners.”

Company documents show at the time of this announcement that IIM’s shareholders and directors included former Western Desert chief executive Mr Wolf, senior Azure Capital executives and Warren Mundine, who was last year appointed as the federal government’s top indigenous adviser.

Another shareholder at this time was the Western Desert corporation’s chief financial officer Mr Wright.

Mr Mundine has confirmed that he was not personally involved in the negotiations nor benefited from the deal.

Western Desert corporation chief executive Noel Whitehead and Mr Wolf said external legal advisers were engaged in 2011 to ensure the deal was done properly and fairly.

Reward this week rejected any inference its negotiations over Lake Disappointment were unfair. It said independent legal and financial advisers were involved and great care had been taken to treat the Martu people with respect.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal land rights and economic prosperity

Env-AustRICH SOIL: CAN INDIGENOUS LAND RIGHTS AND AUSTRALIA’S ECONOMIC INTERESTS COEXIST? RIGHT NOW, By Christine Todd 14 July 14  The Indigenous population in Australia has a long and proud history of careful land management. In the many centuries preceding British colonial settlement, Aboriginal people maximised productivity of the land, using their knowledge of navigation, the tides and the cyclical nature of the seasons to regulate their travel and food supply. They worked in tandem with the land; where the land didn’t suit their needs, they managed burns to clear undergrowth and fuel, with new growth luring grazing animals to hunt. Ecological management shaped the land and ensured continuity and balance.

With colonial settlement came European ideas of what it meant to manage the land. European agriculturalists worked the land to the extent they needed within their boundary fences. Lost was the management of the land as a cohesive, sustainable whole, replaced by a fragmented, needs-based exploitation of the land to achieve economic ends.

Dispossessed from the land they knew so intimately, entire Indigenous communities were often placed on reserves that remained under the control of the Crown. Even here, the right to merely exist on reserve land was not secure, if the government of the day chose to revoke use of the reserves.

Economic development in Australia and the management of traditional Indigenous land has been viewed as mutually exclusive, if not directly conflicting.

In 1963 the Commonwealth government chose to do just that, granting mining company Nabalco a long-term mining lease on Yirrkala Aboriginal Reserve in Arnhem Land. Home to the Yolgnu people, the decision provoked anxiety in the local community. A now-famous bark petition was organised by the Yolgnu to illustrate that the excised land was sacred to them, and vital to their present-day livelihood.

Despite a strong community response, the government ignored their claims to the land, instituting the Mining (Gove Peninsula Nabalco Agreement) Ordinance 1968 (NT), which revoked part of Yirrkala Aboriginal Reserve to enable the development of a mine by Nabalco. Those impacted by the government’s decision challenged the legislation in the Supreme Court in the now famous “Gove land rights case”, however lost on account of a lack of recognition for communal native title within Australian law.

Historically, the economic needs of the Australian government, particularly in the granting of mining projects and the management of vast mineral resources, has conflicted sharply with the acknowledgement of Indigenous land ownership. Small progress has been made over the past three decades as governments initiate land rights legislation and slowly navigate native title to return land to the Indigenous population.

But the mere acquisition of land is only the first step in a process of comprehensive reunification with the land for Indigenous communities. For years, economic development in Australia and the management of traditional Indigenous land has been viewed as mutually exclusive, if not directly conflicting. On the contrary, mutually beneficial enterprise and economic development of Indigenous land must occur in regions that can sustain it, not for the Indigenous population, but by the Indigenous population.

Statutory authorities, such as the Indigenous Land Council (ILC), are already assisting in achieving this goal. Central to their work is the belief that Indigenous land management can lead to the provision of training and employment outcomes for Indigenous people, resulting in a sustainable cycle of Indigenous-driven economic development.

A 2010 Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce report strengthened this resolve……….

Other bodies, such as the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, also aim to link the interests of Indigenous business with the economic prosperity of Australia, by facilitating Indigenous self-reliance and business management. Again, the sentiment here is that ownership of traditional Indigenous land and the economic prosperity of Australia ought not to be viewed as mutually exclusive. They can potentially operate hand in hand, with Indigenous knowledge of the land integrating into the Australian corporate landscape through the development of uniquely Indigenous business initiatives.

Case studies of this approach are plentiful. …….

This approach to creating Indigenous business enterprise, in partnership with building the business capacity of the community, is innovative in its ability to marry social and economic use of the land. Protection of culturally important regions can be achieved alongside an acknowledgement of Indigenous land as a unique environmental resource that the communities themselves can manage. To provide long-term benefits to Indigenous communities, a sustainable Indigenous economic foundation must be laid on Indigenous-held land. Here, opportunity, enterprise, and cultural pride may strengthen a connection to the land that many had considered lost.

Christine Todd is a staff writer for Right Now. http://rightnow.org.au/writing-cat/article/rich-soil-can-indigenous-land-rights-and-australias-economic-interests-coexist/

July 14, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Conflict of interest: Abbott’s Aboriginal man Warren Mundine and the Martu people’s missing $millions

Mundine-and-Abbott

For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?

The sorry tale of Lake Disappointment, the missing mining millions and Warren Mundine, SMH. July 10, 2014  Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie “……once again, he [Darren Farmer] was doing what he had been told not to do. This time he was asking questions. He strode towards Biljabu, who was deputy chairman of the [Western Desert] Corporation. Where, he demanded to know, was the paperwork? And why couldn’t he or the others see it?

The paperwork in question outlined details of the deals Western Desert had struck with mining companies to allow them to dig on the 136,000 square kilometres of resource-rich Pilbara that are the Martu’s traditional lands.

These deals had brought about $50million into the corporation, a non-profit prescribed body corporate that is meant to use the money to benefit all Martu. But little of the money had gone into improving Martu townships.

Farmer kept on with his questions. Why had the Western Desert corporation spent $7million in four years on its handful of employees and paid directors more than $1million? How had well-connected corporate advisers pocketed millions, while much of the Martu mob lived in poverty? Why had the views of senior elders on mining proposals been ignored? Everyone at the meeting that day could tell it was not going to end well.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next……….

Heated debate – and sometimes violence – is nothing new at indigenous land-council meetings across Australia. These are the forums where the future clashes with the past; where members of some of Australia’s most impoverished communities weigh up the riches that mining can deliver against the cultural cost of digging up their sacred sites.

But what was different about that meeting last July was that the deals at the centre of all the trouble had been brokered by companies owned by the biggest names in Australia’s indigenous community, including the nation’s most influential Aboriginal, Warren Mundine.

The accountant Dalgleish, true to stereotype, was a stickler for detail and decided to dig further into Wolf and Wright’s activities. He found that in mid 2008 they had separately bought more than $1million worth of Perth property. This was close to the time Wright joined WDLAC and the Rio Tinto $21million deal was done.

Although he had no proof that the property purchases involved money from Rio Tinto, Dalgleish was intrigued by the confluence of events and brought them to the attention of WDLAC’s board. On May 7, 2009, Dalgleish wrote a confidential memo to WDLAC’s chairman in which he wondered how Wolf could have approved such an “outrageously excessive fee” as the $2.35million paid to Procter.

A day later, Wright paid out Dalgleish’s contract and asked him to leave. He was able to do this because he had become the corporation’s acting chief executive following Wolf’s departure, a promotion that had bumped his salary to $250,000.

Three days after his departure, Dalgleish reported his concerns to the WA police fraud squad, which in turn contacted Western Desert corporation. According to the police file, detectives were assured by Western Desert in September 2009 that Procter no longer acted for the corporation, and that an “independent third party” would examine the issues and provide recommendations.

A WA police spokeswoman says police never received a copy of any third-party review.

‘‘The matter is currently filed pending further contact from WDLAC as the complainant,’’ she says.

Procter is bewildered as to why anyone would seek police attention over the Rio deal. His company, he says, acted with integrity and its role was supported by the Martu people, who were $20million richer because of IndiEnergy’s involvement.

Dalgleish also contacted the federal regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, which is meant to ensure good governance and financial probity at the more than 2500 indigenous bodies across Australia. ORIC also decided not to investigate.

Meanwhile, in early 2009, the Australian Uranium Association – the peak body for uranium miners – announced the members of its indigenous dialogue group. Wolf and Mundine were among those named to promote the potential for uranium mining to enrich indigenous communities.

At the same time, Procter was busy expanding the reach of his company, IndiEnergy. He began appointing ‘‘special advisers’’ from the mining, legal and financial worlds. By far his most important appointment was that of Mundine as a special adviser and advisory board member.

The two had known each other since 2004 when the Howard government appointed them as members of the body that replaced ATSIC.

By the time Abbott announced Mundine as head of his Indigenous Advisory Council in September 2013, he was a close business associate of both Wolf and Procter.

Australia may be a big country, but the indigenous business and politics scene is small and replete with overlapping interests. It was only a matter of time before one of Mundine’s business relationships would clash with his quasi-ministerial role.

Mundine’s potential for a conflict of interest became a reality in February when Procter announced IndiEnergy had taken a stake in an indigenous company whose co-owner, Larrakia Development Corporation, is actively seeking Commonwealth support.

Procter highlighted Mundine in the February announcement of his new venture, praising him and Abbott for promoting indigenous business opportunities. ‘‘Skin in the game is the only way indigenous organisations can attract the right people to assist them in reaching their commercial dreams,’’ Procter said.

But having skin in the game means you risk losing some. And this is the risk that emerged for Mundine when a company he part-owned became involved in the Western Desert corporation’s most contentious mining deal…………

For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?……………

In December 2011, Reward announced it would pay the Western Desert corporation $500,000 upon the signing of an agreement. Another $500,000 would come when mining began and there would also be royalties of 1.25per cent on potash sales. This money was meant to be held in trust for all Martu.

But the biggest prize was Reward’s issuing of 9.5million share options to the Western Desert corporation and Poynton’s Azure Capital, which was in effect the parent company of Indigenous Investment Management. The value of the options at the time was almost $10 million. The Martu will get millions more options as the project progresses.

With money now in the bank, the Western Desert corporation went on a spending spree. Despite its own rules banning the handing out of funds without the approval of all members, the board decided on February 16, 2012, to use the first $500,000 from Reward and $100,000 from the corporation’s operating budget to pay 30 select elders $20,000 each.

Five board members, including Biljabu’s brother, received $20,000 each. Another recipient had just finished his term as a director, and the parents of three board members were also paid. Wolf says ensuring money is properly handled is easier said than done. ‘‘Some Martu live on $9000 a year and so when money hits the account you say ‘that should go to education or something’ but it’s hard when you live in poverty.’’

Still, Farmer says many Martu people are bewildered by their board’s capitulation over Lake Disappointment. ‘‘Why did we fight so hard, only to let it go?’’

So where has the federal regulator been in all this? ORIC has long been aware of governance issues at Western Desert corporation. In 2010, it found the Western Desert corporation had failed to keep proper records, paid money to the board’s chair and deputy in breach of its rules and provided cars to directors – including Biljabu – without member approval. But no disciplinary action was taken against individuals responsible.

Farmer’s fight for answers has taken a toll. ‘‘I’ve been isolated, lost sleep, become ill and [been] made out to be the troublemaker who is stopping people getting their money,’’ he says.

Meanwhile, he says, the Martu communities have not benefited as much as they should have from the mining deals. ‘‘Go out into the communities and there is f— all to show for all the millions.’’………: http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-sorry-tale-of-lake-disappointment-the-missing-mining-millions-and-warren-mundine-20140711-zt2b8.html#ixzz37Iu9KYXJ

 

 

 

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s Aboriginal Adviser Warren Mundine, involved in murky mining deal

Mundine-puppetexclamation-Questions over Warren Mundine’s involvement in mining deal http://www.afr.com/p/national/questions_over_warren_mundine_involvement_DJUrsCD9hl6GHsajefKFoI RICHARD BAKER AND NICK MCKENZIE  12 July 14 A company part owned by Warren Mundine, the federal government’s chief indigenous adviser, helped broker a contentious deal that gave a mining company access to an Aboriginal sacred site in outback ­Western ­Australia.

The revelation raises questions about Mr Mundine’s past business relationships and comes as he seeks to drive reforms to ensure good governance in Aboriginal corporations through his role as head of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

Documents show Indigenous Investment Management, which was part owned by Mr Mundine at the time, was hired in 2010-11 by Reward Minerals. Continue reading

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Radioactive racism, the war to dump nuclear waste on Aboriglnal land in Australia

handsoff

legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests. Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. NSW legislationexempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT

The bipartisan nuclear war against Aboriginal people, Dr Jim Green, Online opinion 11 July 14 The nuclear industry has been responsible for some of the crudest racism in Australia’s history. This radioactive racism dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s and it has been evident in more recent debates over nuclear waste.

TweedleDum-&-DeeSince 2006 successive federal governments have been attempting to establish a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 kms north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: “I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that.”

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC). Continue reading

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Jeff McMullen on Aboriginal policy run in the interests of mining companies

Jeff McMullen: Neoliberalism, market fundamentalism and the colonization of Aboriginal policy The Stringer,  by Colin Penter  March 14th, 2014 “Neo-liberalism is a hungry beast and this 21st Century strain of capitalism is shaping the agenda for control of Aboriginal lands………..Australian Government policy is heavily influenced by neo-liberalism through its extraordinary emphasis on managing access for mining companies to resources on Aboriginal lands. This involves controlling what is still perceived as ‘the Aboriginal problem’ and forcing a social transition from traditional values and cultural practice to ‘mainstream’ modernism of a particular brand. It also involves displacing many Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and concentrating them in ‘growth towns…….To make any sense of the aggression behind most current Indigenous policy in Australia you need to study the impact of neo-liberalism around the globe” Jeff McMullen……..

Analyzing Aboriginal policy through the lens of neoliberalism as McMullen does, helps us to understand what drives social policies such as the Northern Territory Intervention and the social engineering to control Aboriginal people still living on traditional lands, as well as the aggressive land grab by mining and resource companies, aided and abetted by Federal and State Governments, which divides Aboriginal communities, and even Aboriginal families. He writes:

‘Neoliberalism connects the agendas of modernising Aboriginal culture and allowing mining companies to vigorously exploit and minimal cost the mineral treasures on Aboriginal lands’.

McMullen points to the divide and conquer tactics of mining companies and governments in the Kimberley and Pilbara in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory, on Cape York and in parts of NSW and South Australia, as manifestation of these neoliberal agendas.

McMullen is scathing about the role played by influential Aboriginal leaders, such as Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton and Warren Mundine who have become influential advocates and brokers for neoliberal policies and have gathered adherents and supporters in both political parties and corporate Australia.http://thestringer.com.au/jeff-mcmullen-neoliberalism-market-fundamentalism-and-the-colonization-of-aboriginal-policy/#.U8H2JZRdUnk

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

How South Australian Aboriginals won in their battle against nuclear waste dumping

handsoffThe bipartisan nuclear war against Aboriginal people, Dr Jim Green, Online opinion 11 July 14 “……….Dumping on South Australia  The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”. The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. Terra nullius.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election − after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA, the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications − it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby. Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005: ”My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.” Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that ”we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country” and that ”we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this”………http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16489&page=3

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Proposal for Nuclear Waste Dump on Aboriginal Land in Western Australia

WASTES-1Nuclear dump plan for desert MICHAEL DULANEY The West Australian July 6, 2014, A traditional owner in the northern Goldfields wants to house a proposed nuclear waste dump on land in the Gibson Desert to help develop the region’s economy.

Kanpa community chairman Preston Thomas has seized on the Commonwealth dumping Muckaty Station as the site for a Federal nuclear waste repository.

It is part of his vision to provide biofuel to the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and develop agriculture around the remote Kanpa Aboriginal community, about 900 km north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

The Northern Territory station was withdrawn last month after a Federal Court case and division between Aboriginal groups in the region who claim they were not consulted properly.

The Federal Government is looking for an alternative site for Australia’s first radioactive waste dump.

Kanpa’s representative body the Pira Kata Aboriginal Corporation, chaired by Mr Thomas, has applied for a native title sublease of about 500sqkm between Kanpa and the Great Central Road.

Mr Thomas wants this area to be considered for the facility, which requires an area of about 3sqkm – about the size of two football fields……..Mr Thomas has been in discussions for the project with AgGrow Energy Resources since 2010, after the company’s involvement in a similar pilot project in the Pilbara………Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Northern Land Council, which represented traditional owner interests at Muckaty Station, had been given three months to find an alternative site.

If the process was not concluded by September, a nationwide tender would be conducted, with “preliminary discussions” already under way.https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/24395664/nuclear-dump-plan-for-desert/

July 7, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal Australia needs a genuine representative, not Abbott’s token Warren Mundine

It is not acceptable for political parties to appoint a token representative to address the issue, misrepresent to the community they are going to be acting in the best interests of the community and then fail to consult the community upon which they are imposing laws and policies.

Mundine-and-AbbottTony Abbott, terra nullius and Warren Mundine, Independent Australia Natalie Cromb 4 July 2014Prime Minister – and supposed Indigenous Affairs Minister – Tony Abbott has insulted First Australians, saying Australia was “unsettled” before British colonisation, while his Indigenous advisor Warren Mundine laughed off the calumny. First Australian Natalie Cromb comments.

PRIME MINISTER TONU ABBOTT delivered the keynote address at a Melbourne Instituteconference last night and, whilst advocating for foreign investment, he shed some light on his particular take on history, crediting Australia’s existence on British “foreign investment” in

“… the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settlement, Great South Land.

This, of course, is the same Tony Abbott who, in the lead up to last year’s election, told a large group at Arnhem land that he would spend his first week as Prime Minister with the Yolngu People.

When it was pointed out by David Donovan in late September that he had not, actually, done that, PM Abbott was backed to the hilt by his hand-picked Indigenous advisor, Warren Mundine, who excoriated IA‘s managing editor for foolishly taking Tony at his word.

Again, today, Mundine has downplayed Abbott’s latest insensitive comments as “silly”, saying Tony Abbott’s

“… heart is in the right place.”

So, who is this Mundine? And why has he thrown his support behind a prime minister whose attitude towards Indigenous Australia is ambivalent at best and downright duplicitous at worst?

As a proud member of Australia’s First Peoples, I would like to talk about Warren Mundine and his relationship and connection to Indigenous Australia, as well as lay out what a person in his position should aim to achieve.

Warren Mundine is an accomplished man with a large family and extensive political history with the Australian Labor Party — however, those closest to Mundine do consider his political aspirations self-serving rather than for the greater good of the Aboriginal people.

Lending weight to this critique is the fact that he has jumped ship from Labor, citing he was sick at heart following the appointment of Bob Carr to the position that he was courting and now he is Prime Minister Abbott’s key advisor on Aboriginal Affairs.

I am sure that Warren Mundine’s ‘leadership’ status and ‘advisor’ capacity has nothing to do with the fact that he shares the same religious philosophy as the Prime Minister, is an economic conservative that supports Abbott’s policies of individual economic participation as being of more importance than the empowerment of communities and he appears to tow the party line.

Warren Mundine’s views are widely criticised and rightly so.

He has supported a political party and policies that have set Indigenous people back, and makes outlandish comments of this nature, which not only deny the history of this nation, but belittle it for an economic cause.

An example is the recent announcement of $42m funding being cut from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS).

The ATSILS is the one organisation that attempts to counterbalance the obvious discrimination that occurs in the criminal justice system. It is accepted as fact, and there is a tremendous amount of data to support, the contention that Indigenous Australians are racially profiled and are more likely to receive custodial sentences than their non-Indigenous counterparts for the same crime. Nevertheless, ATSILS is staring down the barrel of a crippling funding cut.

Mundine did little to oppose this cut and, in fact, said Indigenous programmes should be looking for further “efficiencies”.

In my opinion, Mundine and Abbott can expel rhetoric about efficiencies until the cows come home but a cut is a cut and cuts of this magnitude, targeted in such a manner, illustrate a complete disconnect between Abbott, his adviser and the Aboriginal populace at large. Continue reading

July 7, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

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