Rallies support native title


Nationally coordinated actions in defence of native title took place on September 20 and 21, and more are planned.

Stefan Skibicki reports from Wollongong that around 500 people attended a rally on September 20.

After assembling at the Trade Union Centre in Lowden Square, supporters marched, chanting and singing, to Peace Place in Wollongong Mall, where they were addressed by Andrew Whiley from Illawarra Residents for Native Title; Carolyn Allport, national president of the National Tertiary Education and Industry Union; Tim Anderson; Kevin Williams from the Native Title Working Group and Barbara Nicholson, who brought greetings from the local Wadi Wadi community. Good News Week's Julie McCrossin compered the rally.

All speakers emphasised that this day of action was only the beginning of an ongoing campaign that is necessary to defend native title.

In Hobart, Sarah Stephen told Green Left, a loud and lively march from Franklin Square concluded in a rally at Parliament House lawns on September 20.

More than 300 people braved the cold and rain, many of them young people, to hear a wide range of speakers condemn the government's attacks on Aborigines and migrants.

Jim McIlroy reports from Brisbane that on September 21 around 500 people joined a march from King George Square to Musgrave Park.

Speakers at the rally included Les Malezer from the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action, Carol Booth from Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR); and John Maitland, the national president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, who pledged his union's support for native title. The rally was chaired by Sam Wainwright from Campaign Against Racism.

In Sydney, where tens of thousands of people were expected to join a rally in the Domain on September 21, the organisers decided that morning to cancel the event because of the threat of rain.

Liam Mitchell told Green Left that around 5000 people turned up in the Domain and many, angry that the rally had been cancelled, stayed for a spontaneous speak-out and discussion. The crowd called on ANTaR not to cancel the next rally, now to be held at 1.30pm on October 11 in the Domain.

Arun Pradhan reports from Perth that ANTaR is organising a festival and rally in support of native title on September 28. The rally will begin at noon at Pioneer Park, next to the workers' embassy set up outside Parliament House in protest over new state industrial relations laws.

Other events prior to the festival include a range of Aboriginal films to be screened at Curtin University.

Organisers decided to hold the event a week after the nationally coordinated time so as not to clash with a range of anti-racist events already scheduled for September 20 and 21 in Fremantle. These included a Fighting Racism Conference organised by the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance, a march in support of land rights organised by Action Against Racism and a Reggae Against Racism organised by Green Left Weekly.