Rally defends native title
By Kamala Emanuel
NEWCASTLE — Sixty people attended a rally and march here for Aboriginal land rights and democratic rights for migrants and refugees on August 30.
Speakers condemned Howard's proposed amendments to native title legislation as a discriminatory attempt to extinguish native title. John Heath from the Aboriginal community made the point that the law as it currently stands is bad enough, but that Howard's amendments would make it even worse.
Laurel Williams from Wollotuka (the Newcastle University Aboriginal Education unit) also spoke against the Howard government's racism, criticising the "10-point plan" and Howard's refusal to offer an apology to the "stolen children".
The demonstration was called by the Newcastle Anti-Racist Alliance, and built on successful public meetings held in Newcastle in the previous weeks.
Jeff Kildea, one of the counsel for the Dunghutti people of northern NSW, spoke at a meeting of the Aboriginal Support Group on August 27, explaining the origins of native title, the meaning of the Mabo case and the Native Title Act, as well as the Wik decision and Howard's "10 point disaster".
In a similar vein, Ray Kelly (from Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Cooperative), Mick Dodson (ATSIC Social Justice Commissioner), and Phil Glendenning (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation convener) addressed a public meeting of 200 people in Newcastle Town Hall on August 19.
ANTaR has called a national day of action in support of native title and reconciliation on September 21. In Newcastle, a picnic will be held in Gregson Park, Hamilton.