The following article is based on an April 24 statement from Aboriginal activist Michael Anderson. A co-founder of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra and a leader of the Euhalyi Nation, Anderson has called on Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin to resign. He explains why here.
* * *
Jenny Macklin runs a very close second to a former Labor minister for Aboriginal affairs, Clyde Holding. Under the Hawke government, Holding closed down the only nationally elected Aboriginal body, the National Aboriginal Conference, because it was too politically minded and very pro-active with its treaty negotiations.
The more conservative Federation of Aboriginal Land Councils was prepared to adopt a more moderate approach to Aboriginal advancement in this country — which was more to the liking of Holding and his party.
Today we have a repeat of Labor policy. Using the advice of the conservative and moderate Aborigines, the government takes away Aboriginal family welfare if they fail to comply with government strategies developed by the Warren Mundines and Noel Pearsons.
Now the federal government is rolling out another absolutely racist policy. If the Aboriginal communities fail to lease their lands to the government, it will not provide any infrastructure and housing funding.
Instead, it threatens communities with: "Oh well, we will give it to the state government bodies and they will acquire land on the open market and they, through their respective departments, can provide the service or housing."
Talk about contradiction! By doing this, the federal government is itself creating a greater welfare dependency approach to Aboriginal people.
This smacks of totalitarianism, but I'm suspicious of the fact that the governments may be doing their sums and are realising that the Aboriginal community organisations are developing wealth and in the not-so-distant future the Aborigines, if they are clever, could use this wealth to become independent of government welfare.
What the federal government is doing is illegal and flies in the face of the recent announcement by Macklin that the federal government now endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This announcement is as empty as the "sorry" statement to the Stolen Generations.
If Aboriginal people are signing over their lands for services, then the contracts surely must be illegal, because the people are doing it under extreme coercion. This is just not right.
How can our people sell their souls like this? I understand that pride doesn't live with us any more, but agreeing to this? You have to be kidding.
Living in this 21st century is like living in a nightmare and no matter where I look we are like mats at the door, everyone is walking over us.
We need our national organisations, if we have any, or state bodies to walk with us and organise against this. Surely they can see the wrong being done? Stand up people, this is not right, surely this can be seen. Stand up for your rights and fight back against this dictatorship.