Australian news, and some related international items

Aboriginal Clinton Pryor’s long walk for justice

Long walk for justice: ‘Spiritual Walker’ Clinton Pryor crosses the country for his people, SMH,  Damien Murphy, 11 August, Clinton Pryor has walked across Australia from west to east seeking justice for Aborigines but he seemed overwhelmed when he walked down Eveleigh Street into the heartland of the Black Power movement.

He set out from Perth on September 8 last year and about 300 people gathered in front of the Redfern Community Centre to cheer Mr Pryor as he walked into Sydney late Thursday afternoon behind an array of flags representing Australia, Eureka, Land Rights and Torres Strait Islanders.

“Its my first time here on the east coast … I just walked in here and can’t tell you what Redfern has meant to us all over the years. Everyone knows Redfern is where we made our stand,” he said.

When he set out on “Clinton’s Walk for Justice” Mr Pryor aimed to walk to Canberra to protest forced closures of Indigenous communities in Western Australia.

But in his 11-month walk he said he had come to realise the issues facing Aborigines were the same across the nation.

“You only have to look at what’s become of ‘The Block’ here in Redfern to see that our people have lost control of their land and lives,” he said.

Mr Pryor told the Redfern audience he was “a Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and a Yulparitja man from the west” but as “a man from Western Australia walking across the whole country for justice and for change” he will march to Parliament House to confront Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issues he has encountered……..

But in his 11-month walk he said he had come to realise the issues facing Aborigines were the same across the nation.

“You only have to look at what’s become of ‘The Block’ here in Redfern to see that our people have lost control of their land and lives,” he said.

Mr Pryor told the Redfern audience he was “a Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and a Yulparitja man from the west” but as “a man from Western Australia walking across the whole country for justice and for change” he will march to Parliament House to confront Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issues he has encountered…….

Mr Pryor will head to Newcastle before turning south for the home walk to Canberra.

He expected to walk up to Parliament House early next month. He will bring Auntie Bronwen and elders from Kalgoorlie to help him tell the Prime Minister what he saw on his walk across Australia.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Governance and operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

governance & operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)W&J Submission to Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into the governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)
W&J submission to the Inquiry into NAIF 28 July 2017

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) are the Indigenous Traditional Owners of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland.
We are the first people and our country – Wangan and Jagalingou country – is in what is now called the Galilee Basin;  and in the area designated as Northern Australia for the operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

“The W&J are directly impacted upon by the NAIF Board’s pending decision on an application by the Adani Group,  as we are Traditional Owners of the area in which the Carmichael mine and related mining infrastructure is proposed. … “

August 9, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginal group’s claim against Western Australia Conservation Council over uranium mining

Traditional owners hit out at WA Conservation Council for alleged misrepresentation over uranium campaign  ABC Goldfields By Jarrod Lucas An Aboriginal corporation representing traditional owners in WA’s northern Goldfields claims an environmental group has misrepresented it by suggesting it supports legal action against a proposed uranium mine.

The Conservation Council of WA launched Supreme Court action earlier this month to challenge the Barnett Government’s decision to approve Cameco’s proposed mine at Yeelirrie, 1,079km north east of Perth.

The council maintains it has the support of members of the Tjiwarl people, the native title holders over the Yeelirrie area, in pursuing the action.

But the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation said they do not speak for its 150-odd members or 10 directors, who represent each of the area’s different family groups.

A spokesman for the Tjiwarl group told the ABC it is yet to formally adopt a policy on uranium mining or the Yeelirriee court case — although that could change as soon as September when the directors meet in Leinster.

“Any decision about this project needs to be made by Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) in accordance with our traditional laws and customs,” the corporation said in a statement.

“Until such time, we ask that media outlets, and the Conservation Council of WA, refrain from referring to Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) as supporting this legal proceeding.”

The spokesman said the group had received significant backlash on social media, due to its perceived involvement in the action.

Conservation Council denies misrepresenting group

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen denied they ever misrepresented the Aboriginal corporation.

“We haven’t linked them to the case, there’s certain members of that claim group that are part of the case, but we haven’t linked the body corporate to the case and I’m not sure where they’re getting that information from,” Mr Verstegen said.

“We haven’t made any linkage between their claim group and the case — it’s just individuals who are part of that claim group who are part of the case.”

Vicky Abdullah, whose family has opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years, is one of three traditional owners who are backing the Conservation Council’s legal action.

“Yeelirrie is important to my family; we have fought to protect this site and we won’t stop now,” Ms Abdullah said.

A crowdfunding page set up by the 47-year-old not-for-profit group seeking to raise $50,000 to fund the court case also mentions the traditional owners.

At last count the page had raised more than $9,800.

Uranium mine a challenging call for traditional owners

The Tjiwarl claim was officially recognised by the Federal Court in April, with the long legal fight seeing the group’s 13,000 square kilometres of land between the towns of Wiluna and Leonora officially acknowledged.

It has sparked a flurry of negotiations with Cameco and fellow mining giants BHP and Gold Fields, both of which have operating mines in the area.

But as WA’s biggest uranium deposit, Yeelirrie remains the area’s most controversial potential development.

Discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1972, the deposit was sold to Cameco by BHP for $US430 million in 2012.

The mine takes its name from a nearby pastoral station, which in turn took its name from the traditional word for the area.

Opponents of the mine say the name translates to “place of death”, but others have suggested “lethargy” or “fatigue” are better translations.

The mine is one of four proposed uranium mines the McGowan Government will allow to proceed, despite reinstating a ban on any further development or exploration in Western Australia.

The Tjiwarl spokesman said the group would likely formalise its position on uranium mining when the corporation’s directors meet in September.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Norther Territory Aboriginal owners’ legal case: they wanted “low level nuclear waste dump”


Wonder which Whitey businessmen are funding this one?


Nuclear waste fight sparks $17m claim,  AMOS AIKMAN,  The Australian, July 26, 2017Traditional owners who want a nuclear waste dump on their land are suing the Northern Land Council for more than $17 million, claiming that the federal statutory authority neglected its duty to support their bid to use the land to ­alleviate crippling poverty.

Documents filed in the Federal Court allege that the NLC, which is legally bound to consult with ­indigenous landholders and pursue their best interests, failed to do so repeatedly in relation to proposals to house Australia’s low-level nuclear waste at Muckaty Station……..

The first applicant, Ngapa traditional owner Jason Bill, welcomed the serving of legal papers yesterday.

“Great news: that’s the thing that my family have been waiting for,” Mr Bill said.

“All we were asking for is a low-level waste dump … we’ve looked into it and heard about it from the professionals, and it’s not going to damage the environment.”…..

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

Death of famed and much-loved Aboriginal activist Yami Lester

Yankunytjatjara elder and Maralinga nuclear test survivor Yami Lester OAM passes away, aged 75, MATT GARRICK, Sunday Mail (SA), July 22, 2017 YANKUNYTJATJARA elder Yami Lester OAM, an Outback hero who opened the nation’s eyes to the human cost of nuclear tests committed on Australian soil, has died aged 75 in Alice Springs.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | 1 Comment

Map of Aboriginal massacres shows that these colonial wars should be recognised

For the full map by the Centre for 21st Century Humanities and the Centre for the History of Violence, visit

Mapping Aboriginal massacres makes it time to recognise the colonial wars, say leading historians, Julie Power.  5 July 17, Almost every Aboriginal clan experienced massacres at the hands of early settlers in the “colonial wars”, according to the first stage of a new online mapping project.

So far the project has documented 150 massacres resulting in at least 6000 deaths in the early years of the colony. Most happened at dawn with a surprise attack on an Aboriginal camp where people “simply couldn’t defend themselves”, said University of Newcastle historian Professor Lyndall Ryan, who has been developing the online digital map for nearly four years.

Yet those who died defending their people and land have rarely been recognised. Professor Ryan and Tasmanian author Professor Henry Reynolds – whose books documented the “forgotten” and “silent” colonial wars against Aboriginal people – said it was time for the Australia War Memorial to recognise this war.  Continue reading

July 7, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference | Leave a comment

Ten years of the Northern Territory intervention. Time it stopped

Ten years too long — stop the intervention Alice Springs, June 30, 2017

The following is a statement issued by participants of the StandUp2017 conference that concluded with a rally in Mbantua (Alice Springs) on June 26.

Rosalie Kunoth Monks: “You better believe it, when the Intervention first hit in 2007 community councils were decimated.”

Matthew Ryan: “Trying to get the government to listen to us, is like a brick wall.”

Elaine Peckham: “When the Intervention came they took away services from homelands. No health services. I had to move back to town. I didn’t want to.”

Yarrentye Arltere Larapinta Valley Town Camp: “Ten years too long. Ten years of hardship, neglect and broken promises. We want Aboriginal control for Aboriginal people by Aboriginal people.”

We need to keep our culture strong. We need to be in control of decision making. We want self-determination.

After ten years the Intervention has met none of its objectives. There are more people in jail, more children being taken away, there is more unemployment.

This StandUp2017 conference makes the following comments and call outs:

Repeal racist Intervention laws

Racist laws introduced through the Intervention have created apartheid and are still with us. Repeal the stronger futures laws.

Repeal changes to social security law that allow for control over our money. End the ban on consideration of customary law in bail and sentencing. Bring back the permit system.

Community governance Continue reading

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

Land use too often linked to the extinguishment of native title.

Land use deals kill native title: Pat Dodson, Wendy Caccetta June 28, 2017 Opportunities offered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under Indigenous Land Use Agreements often come at too high a cost, WA Senator Pat Dodson has warned.

Senator Dodson said agreements — where native title holders and other parties can agree on the use of native title land for mutual benefit and economic development — is too often linked to the extinguishment of native title. Continue reading

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

Karina Lester: the Anangu story, and the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping

Karina Lester: Aboriginal people do not want a nuclear waste dump in South Australia Karina Lester, The Advertiser June 28, 2017 IT was a huge honour to travel to New York for United Nations negotiations on a historic treaty to ban nuclear weapons — a long journey from Walatina in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in far north west South Australia.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

United Nations concerned over impact of climate change on Aboriginals: lack of indigenous inclusion in policy-making

WGAR News, 30 June 17 UN ‘raised concerns over disproportionate  impact of climate change on Australia’s Aboriginal population &  called for gov to engage Indigenous peoples when designing policy. 
Adani mine is opposed by Indigenous landowners.’

‘In the last review of Aus’s obligations to the covenant in 2009,  the committee raised issues over domestic emissions & Indigenous peoples,  but this was the first time coal mining was singled out

June 30, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australian and International Hurdles to Adani Coal Mine Expansion

Final chapter in Adani loan deal, Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton , 24 June 17 “……..While the Queensland government has promised a royalties concession if the development goes ahead, it has also decided not to process the NAIF loan if approved – something that may require federal legislation to circumvent.

And for the Carmichael mine to proceed, the company must have concluded an Indigenous land use agreement, or ILUA, with the area’s native title holders.

Last week, the federal government and Labor combined to pass legislation to reverse a Federal Court ruling that all members of a registered native title claimant group in any relevant area were required to sign an ILUA for it to have force.

The move affected agreements well beyond the Adani ILUA and was welcomed by some Indigenous groups and opposed by others.

That followed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s promise to Adani owner Gautam Adani during a meeting in India earlier this year that he would fix the native title problems that were preventing the development from proceeding,

But the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners are challenging the ILUA on three other grounds. The court hearing has been set down for next year.


Originally, Adani had said it expected to achieve financial close on its Carmichael project by December this year. But recently that date was revised to March – the same month the court is due to hear the ILUA challenge.

What is not clear is whether there is a NAIF deadline by which an applicant must prove it has fulfilled all requirements, or whether an application can remain live for as long as that takes……

In the latest public criticism of the whole proposal, an international group of high-profile conservationists wrote to Malcolm Turnbull late this week urging the government not to proceed.

The Ocean Elders, which include ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle, businessman Richard Branson and Jordan’s Queen Noor, wrote that the mine would worsen damage to the Great Barrier Reef that Australia, as its custodian, had a global obligation to protect.

The group’s spokeswoman, marine biologist Earle, told ABC Radio that Australia should reject fossil fuels and hence the Carmichael mine, despite its advanced state of official approval.

“It’s never too late as long as the people and as long as rational individuals with power can change course, now that we know what we know,” Earle said.

A prime ministerial spokesman declined to comment on the letter.

One of the conditions of the NAIF approving a loan is that it must not be likely to “cause damage to the Commonwealth Government’s reputation or that of a relevant State or Territory government”.

Opponents of the mine are gearing up to argue that such global bad publicity should be grounds for refusal.

In her speech to the Cairns conference, Sharon Warburton said the NAIF must both reflect government policy and be independent of it.

“First NAIF must align with Commonwealth policy, and that is a whole-of-government position, remembering it is taxpayer funds we are deploying,” Warburton said. “Secondly – importantly – we cannot lend funds if all regulation at both a Commonwealth and state level are not in place.

“The other tremendously important parameter under which we operate is that it was set up to be an independent body making decisions independently of all outside influence.”

Given the attempts at influence being made on all sides of the argument, that may prove to be a challenge.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Australia’s Karina Lester at United Nations conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty

South Australian woman Karina Lester presents anti-nuclear speech to United Nations in New York Erin Jones, The AdvertiserJune 23, 2017 

KARINA Lester’s family remembers the ground shaking and a black mist rolling towards them when nuclear tests were carried out at Emu Field, in the state’s Far North. The residents of Walatina community, 150km south of the explosion, were given no notice of the British tests, in 1953, but they would suffer from lifelong health affects.

Her father, Yankunytjatjara elder Yami Lester, became blind as a result of the testing, while others suffered skin infections, auto-immune diseases and severe vomiting.

Ms Lester shared the poignant story with world leaders in New York this month in a four minute address to the United Nations conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty. “It was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present to the UN,” Ms Lester said. “It’s really important to be able to share these stories otherwise we forget. “We learn so much about world wars but we don’t hear the history of what happened here.”

The treaty talks have been supported by more than 120 countries, but Australia and those with nuclear powers, including Russia and the United States have boycotted the conference.

Countries which signed the treaty would be forbidden from developing or manufacturing nuclear weapons and they would need to get rid of any weapons they already possess.

“It was disappointing as an Australian person to speak about what happened in our own backyard, when your country wasn’t even in the room,” Ms Lester said.

“This is an opportunity for nations to get together and completely ban nuclear weapons, instead of spending trillions of dollars to improve their technology.”

Ms Lester, of North Plympton, also took part in sessions with Hiroshima survivors to further share stories of the how nuclear weapons affect humanity.

“You can’t help but be moved when you hear those stories from people who survived and what they remember from when the blast when off,” she said.

 The 42-year-old senior Aboriginal language worker has advocated against nuclear testing since she was a teenager and, more recently, fought against the Australian Government’s plan for an international waste dump in SA.

Talks on the global treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons conclude on July 7.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Rose and Karina Lester: the personal story of two feisty Aboriginal sisters

When I heard that [SA premier] Jay Weatherill had announced the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in March 2015, I knew I had to campaign against the nuclear waste dump. I asked Sis to support me because she helped Nanna – Dad’s aunt, Eileen Kampakuta Brown – with the successful Irati Wanti Campaign against a nuclear dump in Coober Pedy in 2004. So we’re fighting it together.

Rose and Karina Lester: How illness has driven our anti-nuclear campaign work  Rosamund Burton , 24 June 17 

Indigenous activists Rose Lester, 47, and her sister Karina, 42, are the daughters of Yami Lester, who went blind after the “black mist” fallout from the British nuclear tests in 1953 came over his family’s camp.

ROSE: When Mum went to hospital to have Karina, my grandparents came to Alice Springs to look after my older brother, Leroy, and me. They were proper traditional, and built a little humpy in our backyard and camped there. I was chuffed I had a sister. She was a gorgeous, dark, chubby thing. Continue reading

June 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal leader, previous supporter of Adani coal project, now rejects it

“I want to withdraw my signature on the Ilua,” he said. “I take this position because I do not believe that the Ilua adequately compensates us for the destruction the project will wreak upon the traditional culture and lands of our people.”

He said that most in the meeting, which was boycotted by those opposing the deal, were “people I did not recognise as being members of our claim group”.

“Most importantly, I believe that QSNTS failed us by not ensuring that we were properly and independently advised on the benefits of entering the Adani Ilua,” Dallen said. “Only the benefits of entering the Ilua were discussed.””..

Adani mine loses majority support of traditional owner representatives
Wangan and Jagalingou representative who had backed an Indigenous land use agreement now says he opposes the mine, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 15 June 17 
Adani has lost majority support from traditional owner representatives for a land access deal for its Queensland mine, casting doubt on moves to implement the agreement.

Craig Dallen, a Wangan and Jagalingou representative who last year backed an Indigenous land use agreement (Ilua) with the miner, now says he opposes a deal that will not make up for “the destruction the project will wreak upon the traditional culture and lands of our people”.

Dallen’s reversal, which came while he was sidelined from the decision-making process while in custody in a Queensland jail, has left the W&J representative group deadlocked on the Adani deal, with six in favour and six against.

But federal government native title amendments passed on Wednesday mean Adani’s agreement, unlike all future Iluas, do not need majority support to proceed. Continue reading

June 16, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Traditional Owners slam passage of Native Title amendments

Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine have expressed profound disappointment at the passage of Attorney General Brandis’ amendments to the Native Title Act, stressing that while Mabo’s legacy has been diminished they will continue to fight for their rights.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “Adani’s problems with the Wangan and Jagalingou people are not solved this week. The trial to decide the fate of Adani’s supposed deal with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners is scheduled for the Federal Court in March 2018.

“Our people are the last line of legal defence against this mine and its corrosive impact on our rights, and the destruction of country that would occur.

“Senator Brandis has been disingenuous in prosecuting his argument for these changes to native title laws, while the hands of native title bureaucrats and the mining lobby are all over the outcome.

“This swift overturning of a Federal Court decision, without adequate consultation with Indigenous people, was a significant move, not a mere technical consideration as the Turnbull Government has tried to make out.

“It is appalling and false for George Brandis to pretend that by holding a ‘workshop’ with the CEOs of the native title service bodies, he has the unanimous agreement of Traditional Owners across Australia. No amount of claimed ‘beseeching’ by the head of the Native Title Council, Glen Kelly, can disguise this.

“The public were not properly informed about the bill, and nor were Indigenous people around the country, who were not consulted and did not consent to these changes.

“We draw the line today. We declare our right to our land. There is no surrender. There is no land use agreement. We are the people from that land. We’re the rightful Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou country, and we are in court to prove that others are usurping our rights”, he said.

Spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, says, “Whatever else this change does, we know that the Turnbull Government went into overdrive for Adani’s interests.

“Brandis’ intervention in our court case challenging the sham ILUA was about Adani. Most of what Senator Matt Canavan had to say in argueing his ill-informed case for native title changes was about Adani. The Chairman of Senate Committee inquiring into the bill, Senator Ian McFarlane, referring to the native title amendments as “the Adani bill” was about Adani. And the PM telling Chairman Gautam Adani that he’d fix native title was about Adani”.

“We are continuing to fight Adani in court and our grounds are strong. If anyone tells you this is settled because the bill was passed, they are lying”, she said.

Adrian Burragubba says, “The Labor Opposition seems to understand this, even though they supported passage of the bill. Senator Pat Dodson went so far as to say this bill does not provide some kind of green light for the Adani mine, as some suggest.

“Pat Dodson acknowledged that W&J have several legal actions afoot against Adani and we are glad that in the midst of this dismal response to the rights of Indigenous people some MPs, including the Greens who voted against the bill, recognise the serious claim we have to justice.

Mr Dodson said in the Senate that: “most of this litigation will be entirely unaffected by the passage of this bill. In particular, there are very serious allegations of fraud that have been made against Adani regarding the processes under which agreements with the Wangan and Jagalingou people were purportedly reached. And those proceedings, which may impact on the validity of any ILUA, will only commence hearings in March next year. Other legal action is also underway, including a case challenging the validity of the licences issued by the Queensland government.”

This week researchers from the University of Queensland released a report titled ‘Unfinished Business: Adani, the state, and the Indigenous rights struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council‘.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment