By Bill Mason
BRISBANE — Queensland ALP leader Peter Beattie has urged the Labor Party not to adopt a "heart-on-the-sleeve" approach to the native title issue at the party's national conference in Hobart, as Premier Rob Borbidge gears up for an openly racist campaign in the state election, due mid-year.
Beattie said on January 14 that Labor should avoid an "emotional" stance on the Howard government's controversial Native Title Amendment (Wik) Bill, partially changed late last year by the Senate.
Beattie called on federal Labor and the Howard government to "find a compromise". He wished parts of Howard's "10-point plan" on Wik had become law to end confusion and protect jobs in Queensland.
Beattie said he would tell conference delegates that unless Labor played the politics of land rights more carefully, Borbidge would misrepresent Labor's stance. He said the Borbidge government would then use the issue to "crawl back over the line" in the state election.
The Democratic Socialist Party Queensland spokesperson on Aboriginal affairs, Sam Wainwright, condemned the Nationals' plan to run a racist election campaign, and called on the state ALP to "stand up and be counted" on the issue.
"Borbidge has made it perfectly clear in many statements that he is attempting to divide the community over the issue of native title, spreading the lie that Aboriginal land rights are a threat to the jobs and livelihoods of ordinary people", Wainwright said. "It is high time Peter Beattie and the Labor Party took a clear-cut stand in favour of native title, and stopped bending to the racist pressure of the Nationals."
"With Pauline Hanson and her despicable One Nation party having launched their reactionary campaign for the state election, it is now time for all opposition parties to unite to condemn the racist onslaught", Wainwright said. "The Democratic Socialists will be campaigning strongly in the state and federal elections in favour of Aboriginal land rights and compensation for past and present discrimination."
For more information on the Democratic Socialist campaign in Queensland, contact (07) 3254 0565.