Demand for real land rights


Demand for real land rights

By Maurice Sibelle

BRISBANE — Queensland Aborigines are not happy with "land rights" legislation passed by state parliament at 2 a.m. on May 31.

The legislation does not give Aboriginal people real ownership over land and its resources. It offers no prospects of economic independence from government welfare and does not provide for acquisition of alternative land to compensate for sites irrevocably lost.

Following their 750-strong march on May 23, several hundred Aborigines marched on Parliament House on May 29. They chanted, "Who owns this land? We do! Who stole this land? They did!" (pointing at parliament house). "What do we want? Land rights! When do we want it? Now! What have we got? F___ all!"

In scenes reminiscent of the Bjelke-Petersen days, police attacked and arrested eight protesters when they were ordered to clear the Parliament House courtyard. The order came from the ALP speaker of the house, Jim Fouras. The protesters were in the process of leaving the grounds, which they had entered earlier by removing a gate.

One protester remarked, "Nothing has changed in Queensland".

March organiser Bob Weatherall commented, "This is violent legislation. It does not allow Aboriginal people to establish their own economic, social and cultural independence from this white supremacist regime." n