Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Traditional Aboriginal landowners excluded from Rio Tinto land agreement

In May, there was much media, government and corporate brouhaha over an agreement signed by Rio Tinto Alcan and traditional owners, ensuring the continuation of local bauxite mines and alumina refineries……
Certainly not everybody celebrated the agreement. Previously recognised traditional owners from the area were not properly consulted and are considering legal action

The Bark Petition: An expression of legal ownership, Green Left, September 18, 2011, By Emma Murphy   Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem land, is home to the famous 1963 “Bark Petition”. This was a protest action by the Yolngu people that led to the first native title litigation in Australia’s history.

I was there last month for the anniversary of that stage of their landmark struggle.

The petition was an attempt by the Yolngu people to force legal recognition of their land ownership rights.

Of course, their legal system had recognised their rights since time immemorial. But it became apparent to the landowners that Balanda — non-Aboriginal people — didn’t respect the law of the land.

In March 1963, the government had sold part of the Yolngu estate to Nabalco, a bauxite mining company.

The Bark Petition (a petition framed by painted bark) was presented to federal parliament in August that year.

It was, for the Yolngu, a diplomatic move.

It was an attempt to communicate, in legal terms, sovereign to sovereign……

The Yolngu went on to take Nabalco to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in 1968 to once again try to prove their legal claim to the land….

The court challenge failed, although in a confidential memo to the government and opposition, Justice Richard Blackburn noted that some sort of systematic recognition of Aboriginal land rights would be “morally right and socially expedient”.

The court case led to the establishment of the Woodward Royal Commission. This, in turn, eventually led to the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act, diluted though it was by the Malcolm Fraser Liberal government.

Today, multinational mining corporation Rio Tinto Alcan is all over north-east Arnhem Land.
It’s almost part of the cultural landscape now, as much as the physical landscape…..

In May, there was much media, government and corporate brouhaha over an agreement signed by Rio Tinto Alcan and traditional owners, ensuring the continuation of local bauxite mines and alumina refineries……

Certainly not everybody celebrated the agreement. Previously recognised traditional owners from the area were not properly consulted and are considering legal action. http://blog.whywarriors.com.au/2011/dhurili-nation-challenges-lease-agre…)
http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/48870

September 20, 2011 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory

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