Australian news, and some related international items

Wangan and Jagalingou rebut the pro mining spiel of industry puppet Warren Mundine

Mundine reduces Aboriginal land rights and First Nations treaties to ‘a fantasy business transaction’ Wangan and Jagalingou 24 April 2017:

“In his opinion piece [1], “Activists undermine principles of self-determination”, 20 April 2017,
Warren Mundine makes exaggerated, false and misleading comments.

As his views still gain considerable national attention as the former head of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council [2], it is necessary for us to respond.

“While we agree that “making your own decisions and controlling your own destiny… is something for which Indigenous people long campaigned”  – he does much to undermine this premise in his article.
His uninformed characterisations of the Wangan and Jagalingou situation regarding the proposed Adani Carmichael mine do us and our campaign for self-determination a great disservice.

“Our forebears, like many others, pursued “sources of self-determination, like land rights”.  We too celebrate Koiki Eddie Mabo’s achievement to gain “recognition of his people’s fundamental and original right to the land and seas on which they’d lived and subsisted since time immemorial”.

“But to then build an argument on Mabo’s legacy, as Mundine does, and say that the Native Title Act in its present form is fostering “Indigenous economic participation by allowing traditional owners to use land as an economic asset”, is ludicrous. He fails to position the importance of traditional lands in the full spectrum of Indigenous values and uses (not just economic and extractive relations to resources), alongside the manifest failures of the  Native Title Act to deliver anything remotely like land rights for most Aboriginal people.

“His elevation of the role of businesses in empowering Traditional Owners through Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) compounds the folly. And to go further and state that there’s “little difference in substance between a treaty and an ILUA entered into with a government” reaches the height of absurdity. …

“As Deakin University’s Emeritus Professor Dr Jon Altman states [4], “Warren Mundine is poorly informed about the workings of the Native Title Act. His views run contrary to three Federal Court Judges. He confuses correlation with causation. In other words, just because key Traditional Owners and some ‘greenies’ agree, doesn’t mean one caused the other. It just means they share a similar view on Adani’s Carmichael mine proposal.” …

“We will argue our case to the Australian public. These are the people who support us, morally and financially. We welcome the many thousands of contributions that assist with our legal and other actions.

“We make no apologies for taking a stand, like so many Aboriginal rights campaigners,
against a dubious company intent on overriding our decisions, destroying our heritage, dividing our people and offering an insulting pittance in return.

“Mundine can characterise it however he likes, but we have no doubt that our stand is exactly an assertion of Indigenous self-determination. We don’t need his approval, or care about his disapproval.
“Though we’re sure his mates in the mining sector [5] and the halls of Government will welcome his opinions.”

April 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

A March on Anzac Day: 6 years of FRONTIER WARS

Sovereign Union 20 Apr 2017  Ghillar, Michael Anderson: 

“We’ve been dying on this soil for many hundreds of years now, since the whiteman came and we’ve been doing that in defense of our land. They’ve had the superior force and mightier weapons, but they’ve never been able to conquer us. They’ve been able to imprison us, jail us and all that sort of stuff but we’ve never acquiesced, never ceded our sovereignty and we are in defense of our land every day of the week.

This is a hidden war. It’s a war of stealth and, unfortunately, when we want to remind people of this, then people take offence and call it a protest.

This is just being totally respectful of the fact that we, our people, have got a message to relay and Australia cannot keep hiding it – like at Hospital Creek nine kilometres north of Brewarrina. We want to excise that land there because the human bones are still visible and that’s my ancestry. They were shot at this place. We had here people who survived this massacre, but that was a private army. They were made up of all the cockies and pastoralists.

It’s reality.

We need to remind people of this – and you go to Germany where mass murders occurred in Germany. You go to Serbia now, where they buried people in mass graves, where they massacred them. They’ve now created a situation there where these things are memorial parks now to the dead who were killed there.

Here in Australia we don’t have that and I think it’s time we did that for every nation. We have to include the elements of Australia’s forgotten wars.”

April 21, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, ACTION, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Racial abuse at BHP mining site in Western Australia? Aboriginal woman takes legal action

Aboriginal woman launches legal action over alleged racial abuse at WA mining site BHP Billiton is facing legal action over alleged racial abuse at one of its mine sites in Western Australia. By  Ryan Emery 18 APR 2017 An Aboriginal woman has launched legal action against BHP Billiton after months of alleged racial abuse on a Western Australian mining site.

Continue reading

April 19, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Indigenous Treaty Now, Not Just Constitutional Recognition Paul Gregoire 9 April 2017:

Treaty now

“A treaty is a formal settlement or agreement made between independent states. Treaties establish binding obligations and formal relations between two parties.

“Mr Terry Mason explained that treaties between the government and each of the land’s Indigenous nations would deal with matters of self-determination, land rights and custodianship.
And he believes they would guard against “discriminating legislation,” such as the Turnbull government’s recent attempts to amend native title laws.

““Aboriginal peoples must be able to take control of their own lives and resources  in a progressive manner at both political and economic levels,” Mason added. … “

April 17, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Adani faces strong Indigenous fight  despite court outcome ~ Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council 12 April 2017:

“Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council say there is nothing in today’s court decision on the Native Title Act Section 66B application that will stop them in their fight against Adani in the courts.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J)Traditional Owners Council, and member of the existing Applicant, Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The decision today shows how vulnerable the rights of Traditional Owners are when they don’t agree to the destruction of their country by big miners like Adani.

““Adani has actively worked to divide our community, undermine our representatives,
and register a sham agreement with our people to pave the way for the destruction of our lands and waters. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, MsMurrawah Johnson, said,
“Adani are pretending this mine is inevitable but it still faces a series of other court cases we are running.
We are currently in the Federal Court, working to prove Adani does not in any event have our consent
and its land use ‘deal’ is a sham and a cover for the destruction of our country.

““Adani is also before the Queensland Court of Appeal in May, when we challenge the Queensland government’s issuing of mining leases to Adani”.

““This proposed mine project will wreck our land and  waters, and destroy our culture.
It will ride roughshod over our rights.  It will unleash enormous environmental damage and
drive dangerous climate change in the process. … “

April 14, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Turnbull offers to  sacrifice Aboriginal rights  to Adani in  an act of national betrayal ~ Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners  11 April 2017:

“The Turnbull government is willing to sacrifice Aboriginal people’s rights in pursuit of a deal with Adani for its proposed coal megamine, sanctioning the destruction of the lands and waters of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners.
The Prime Minister has courted Gautam Adani with the offer of ‘fixing the native title problem.’
This is an act of national betrayal, says the W&J Traditional Owners Council. …

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J)Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said,
“The Prime Minister is another in a long line of political leaders, Federal and State,
who are willing to sacrifice Aboriginal peoples’ rights if a profit or a deal is attractive enough.
It is extraordinary to have the Prime Minister travelling to India to tell a businessman that he will change the Native Title Act in Australia and undermine our rights so that his destructive project can proceed. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, MsMurrawah Johnson, said,
“The Prime Minister has promised a foreign billionaire and head of a shady industrial conglomerate
that he will fix his ‘native title problem’ by changing the law in Australia.
We have always maintained that the Government’s rushed changes to the Native Title Act were ‘Adani amendments’. Today the Prime Minister has made it plain that this is another special favour for Adani. …
“For more information and to arrange interviews:   Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor … “

April 14, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

How Prime Minister Robert Menzies, and Sir Ernest Titterton sold us all out for British nuclear testing

Australian tolerance of the British and their obsessive secrecy may be explained by the deference and loyalty to the ‘motherland’. Prime Minister Menzies identified so strongly with Britain that he considered British national interest as Australia’s national interest.

Another factor which underlay Australian deference during the course of the testing program was the role of Sir Ernest Titterton.

The full legal and political implications of the testing program would take decades to emerge. The secrecy which surrounded the British testing program and the remoteness of the tests from major population centres meant that public opposition to the tests and awareness of the risks involved grew very slowly.

Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 

“…..Admittedly, in the 1950s knowledge of radiation hazards was not as advanced as it is today. At the time it was not generally recognised that small doses of low level radiation might increase the risk of cancer years later. But even in the light of knowledge of the time, the information on which Menzies based his decisions was seriously deficient.

There seems little doubt that the secrecy in which the entire testing program was cloaked served British rather than Australian interests. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia

Australia’s hospitality, largesse and loyalty to Britain were not without their costs. Moreover, the sacrifices made by Australians on behalf of the ‘motherland’ were not equally borne. Whilst low population density and remoteness from major population centres were among the criteria for the selection of the testing sites, the Emu and Maralinga sites in particular were not uninhabited. Indeed, they had been familiar to generations of Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years and had a great spiritual significance for the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people.

A variety of factors underlay the harm to public health, Aboriginal culture and the natural environment which the British tests entailed. Perhaps most significant was the secrecy surrounding the testing program.

During the entire course of the testing program, public debate on the costs and risks borne by the Australian public was discouraged through official secrecy, censorship, misinformation, and attempts to denigrate critics

Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 “…….
In 1950, Labor Prime Minister Clement Atlee sent a top secret personal message to Australian Prime Minister Menzies asking if the Australian government might agree to the testing of a British nuclear weapon at the Monte Bello Islands off Western Australia. Menzies agreed in principle, immediately; there is no record of his having consulted any of his Cabinet colleagues on the matter.

The Monte Bello site was deemed suitable by British authorities, and in a message to Menzies dated 26 March 1951 Atlee sought formal agreement to conduct the test. Atlee’s letter did not discuss the nature of the proposed test in minute detail. He did, however, see fit to mention the risk of radiation hazards:

6. There is one further aspect which I should mention. The effect of exploding an atomic weapon in the Monte Bello Islands will be to contaminate with radio activity the north-east group and this contamination may spread to others of the islands. The area is not likely to be entirely free from contamination for about three years and we would hope for continuing Australian help in investigating the decay of contamination. During this time the area will be unsafe for human occupation or even for visits by e.g. pearl fishermen who, we understand, at present go there from time to time and suitable measures will need to be taken to keep them away. We should not like the Australian Government to take a decision on the matter without having this aspect of it in their minds (quoted in Australia 1985, p. 13).

Menzies was only too pleased to assist the ‘motherland’, but deferred a response until after the 195 1 federal elections. With the return of his government, preparations for the test, code-named ‘Hurricane’, proceeded. Yet it was not until 19 February 1952 that the Australian public was informed that atomic weapons were to be tested on Australian soil. On 3 October 1952 the British successfully detonated a nuclear device of about 25 kilotons in the Monte Bello Islands. Continue reading

April 10, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Labor claims Coalition’s proposed native title changes breach deal deal struck between major parties

Coalition’s proposed native title changes a breach of deal struck between major parties, Labor claims, ABC News, 2 Apr 17 By political reporter Dan Conifer Federal Labor has accused the Coalition of bungling native title changes and breaching a deal struck between the major parties.

The Coalition moved to amend the Native Title Act in February soon after a court scuttled a multi-million-dollar deal between the West Australian Government and traditional owners.

The Federal Court rejected the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) between the parties because it was not signed by all native title claimants.

Until February’s court decision, ILUAs could be made without the support of all native title applicants.

The court ruling overturned years of established law, throwing doubt over current and future agreements nationwide.

“It is once again clear that these new amendments have not been subjected to any form of consultation with legal experts, Indigenous Australians or industry.

“The repeated breaches of faith by your Attorney-General in this matter, and the clear unwillingness of your Government to properly consult on the significant issues at hand, have meant that Labor remains concerned about some aspects of the bill.”

The correspondence was also signed by shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus and shadow assistant minister for Indigenous affairs Pat Dodson.

The letter said Labor wanted the Senate committee’s recommendations enacted “as quickly as possible” and offered to work with the Coalition over coming weeks……..

The amendments have not been debated in the Senate.

Parliament next sits in May.

The Coalition and Labor agreed on the need to amend the legislation to reverse the effect of the recent court decision, allowing at least 126 ILUAs already proposed or registered to continue with as few as one claimant.

But the Opposition claims Attorney-General George Brandis has proposed changes that go beyond what the major parties agreed during a Senate committee process.

Shorten ‘uncomfortable’ with Government handling of issue In a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Government of “repeated breaches of faith”.

“These amendments failed to deliver on the prior agreement and were again defective in a number of respects,” the letter said.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Adani coal project gets major setback as Government fails to pass Native Title Bill

Government fails to pass Native Title Bill:  Major setback for Adani and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council 31 March 2017:

“The Turnbull Government failed to push through its controversial Native Title Bill  by the end of the Parliamentary sitting,  despite the Labor Opposition’s readiness to negotiate on the amendments.

“The next opportunity for the Federal Senate to consider the Native Title Amendment Bill  is the Budget Sitting in early May and, if not then, the next sittings are mid June. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, MsMurrawah Johnson, said,
““The Adani Board is reported to be set to make a decision within the next two weeks on whether to push on with the mine project. But it still faces our court actions.  Right now their purported land use agreement is worthless. … “

April 1, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Success of Indigenous rangers program: calls for it to be expanded

Call to expand Indigenous rangers program by national Indigenous affairs correspondent Bridget Brennan, 30 Mar 17, Indigenous rangers are helping to prevent habitat loss and species decline across an area 10 times the size of Tasmania, a new report says.

The Country Needs People alliance — which represents dozens of ranger groups across the country — said it should be an incentive for the Federal Government to commit to extending funding for Indigenous Protected Areas.

The report found multiple examples of ranger groups, in each state and territory, controlling fires and destroying feral animals and weeds. The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Affairs adviser, Chris Sarra, said he supported a call to expand ranger numbers.

In the report, Dr Sarra said rangers were succeeding because supporting their work encouraged self-determination and connection to country.

“That success is built on the strength of our connection to culture and country,” he said.

Country Needs People also called on the Government to set an ambitious target to employ an extra 4,200 Indigenous rangers by 2022.

The chief executive of the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation, Debbie Symonds, said her group had just four rangers covering 860,000 hectares on Cape York in Queensland.

“To be able to employ even another four rangers would be an amazing leap for us,” Ms Symonds said.

Funding for 800 rangers has been given a lifeline by the Federal Government until 2020, but funding to operate the 75 Indigenous Protected Areas they work on runs out in the middle of next year. Ms Symonds said on a recent “bush blitz”, Olkola Land Managers had recorded new skinks, bats, moths, spiders and birds in their area.

She said with “limited resources”, the rangers were also working to conserve the tiny population of the golden-shouldered parrot, a totem for the Olkola people.

“It was on the brink of extinction and we’re slowly bringing it back from extinction,” she said.

March 31, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Adnyamantha Aboriginal elder considering legal action against federal government’s proposed nuclear waste dump

Aboriginal Elder Tony Clark concerned with nuclear waste facility, Transcontinental, Matt Carcich@MattCarcich 23 Mar 2017, Adnyamantha and Kujani Traditional Elder Tony Clark says if the federal government’s proposed nuclear waste facility at Barndioota continues to the next stage, a federal court legal intervention may take place.

Mr Clark has previously led the charge of the Kujani people’s Federal Court win against the federal government’s proposed nuclear waste facility for Woomera in 2004.

The potential intervention would come from a group of Adnyamantha and Kujani people who are concerned the proposed facility holds a significant risk to the survival of the Pungu Purrungha song line.

The songline travels across a body of water more than 70 kilometres in length from Hawker to Lake Torrens, and is an important piece of local Aboriginal history.

It’s also believed to be at least 85,000 years old.

Mr Clark said he’s opposed to the facility and that he and others are not afraid of taking potential legal action. “If they proceed to the next step on our country … then we would look towards seeking legal intervention in the federal courts,” he said.

The proposed site,130 kilometres north of Port Augusta, will store low-level and some intermediate-level nuclear waste. The low level purpose-built repository would be about the size of four Olympic size swimming pools with a 100 hectare buffer on the 25,000 hectare property.

Designs have not been prepared for the national repository but it will be modelled on above-ground storage and disposal facilities overseas……

Mr Clark said the ‘cultural and spiritual well-being’ of the Adnyamantha people is at risk if the facility proceeds, and he believes section 47 of the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act (1989) plays an important role in the facility’s future.

The act states an Aboriginal person may enter, travel across or stay on pastoral land for the purpose of following the traditional pursuits of the Aboriginal people.

Mr Clark said the Adnyamantha people’s cultural and spiritual well-being may be at risk if they can’t access the Pungu Purrungha song line and that this section shows no Pastoralist can stop Aboriginal people accessing a traditional site like the Pungu Purrungha song line.

“Our cultural and spiritual well-being is at risk, along with our physical contact to the land under various acts of parliament, including section 47 of the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act (1989).”

A Spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said the (federal) government has said it will deliver a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in a centralised, purpose-built repository.

“The government has not formed a view that it should be located in Barndioota,” the spokesperson said….. 

March 24, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, Opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Senate Inquiry report tabled: Labor support for Native Title Bill profoundly disappointing 21 March 2017:
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s Carmichael mine are profoundly disappointed that Labor senators have today backed in the Government’s rushed and ill-considered amendments to the Native Title Act, giving a free kick to Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and plans for a Qld coal mine.

“The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the recent McGlade decision that upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all applicants are needed to sign a land use agreement. The bill is expected to be debated in the Senate today.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “Labor has lined up with the Government to wind back our rights – and their own commitment to land rights. They have swallowed the arguments of the mining and agricultural lobby that there is a crisis that needs an urgent response. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council Ms Murrawah Johnson said,  “The major parties have given Adani and their dirty mine a free kick today.
““Politicians at the Federal and State level are falling over themselves to push this controversial proposed mine through, denying us our rights to self-determination. …

Mr Colin Hardie, Lawyer for the W&J native title claimants objecting to Adani’s purported ILUA said, “The risk involved in this legislation is so great it should not be proceeding.
It is a case where the cure is worse than the complaint. My clients will retain their objection to the purported Adani ILUA in the court, and consider grounds for challenging the legislation”. … “

March 24, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

‘Utopia’, the film, can be viewed for the first time online

Bronwyn Lucas Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 20 Mar 17, 

‘Utopia’, the film, can be viewed for the first time on this site
If you’ve ever wondered whether the federal government might be trustworthy, whether our first nation peoples have been treated fairly and whether they have the right to have a whinge, then this film might make wake you up, if you’re like most Australians and asleep at the wheel … my biggest surprise was the integrity of ABC’s Lateline … oh … and Dave Sweeney who spoke at Hawker at our latest gathering? He appears briefly too!

Do we believe what the Feds say? It’s propaganda +++ and poor Kimba, about to have a three-month intensive ‘community consultation’ roadshow …

John Pilger – … a great Australian journalist!

March 21, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, art and culture, Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance- a formidable lobby group takes off

Whereas high energy prices often drive Indigenous people off their traditional lands, lower-cost renewables can help communities to thrive no matter how remote.

“We can build a power station where the community exists,” .. “so people are able to successfully live in the environment the way they want to live and have access to power which enables them to better determine their economic future.”

How an Indigenous renewable energy alliance aims to cut power costs and disadvantage
First Nations lobby group will support remote communities looking to make transition – and tackle climate change,
Guardian, , 17 Mar 17 

Like so many of the Indigenous communities dotted across the Australian continent, the remote communities in north-west New South Wales are struggling. “These are not happy places,” says the Euahlayi elder Ghillar Michael Anderson.

Many of the 300 or so residents of Anderson’s hometown of Goodooga rely on welfare, he says. Exorbitant electricity bills – up to $3,000 a quarter for some households – further exacerbate the poverty. “We’re always at the end of the power line, so the service that is there is quite extraordinary in terms of cost.”

Many other communities rely on expensive, emissions-intensive diesel-powered generators to meet their electricity demands. “It’s a real problem and we need to make sure that we fix this,” Anderson says.

To that end, Anderson and 24 other Indigenous leaders have formed the First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance, which aims to tackle high power costs and entrenched disadvantage – along with climate change – by pushing for renewable energy in Indigenous communities. Continue reading

March 20, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment