Tent Embassy protests were right – racist laws are the real scandal

Photo courtesy of Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney.

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released the statement below on January 31.

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The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) has declared support for the Aboriginal rights protests in Canberra on January 26 targeting Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard. STICS says that the Northern Territory intervention has turned the clock back more than 40 years in Aboriginal affairs, erasing many of the gains made through the struggles of the original Tent Embassy.

Several STICS members were present in Canberra celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Tent Embassy, and joined the protests when they heard Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard were present at the near-by cafe.

Daphne Lake is an Aboriginal elder from Bankstown and a STICS member who was in Canberra for the 40th anniversary:

"Tony Abbott says it's time for us to move on from the embassy and the fight for rights. But how can we move on when they keep kicking us back into the gutter?

"The policies they are putting out through this intervention are exactly what my parents, siblings and I had to deal with growing up and exactly what the NSW parliament was debating in the 1930s and this included rights for Aboriginal people. Laws controlling what we buy, where we live, banning alcohol, even banning my parents from speaking our Aboriginal language.

"Now they are trying to put income management into Bankstown, but they won't get away with it. We will continue the fight just like the embassy, we can't give up. We can't give up until we have equal rights.”

Paddy Gibson is a STICS member who attended the protest at the cafe:

"Tony Abbott has tried to create a scandal about who told protesters he was in a cafe. But the real scandal is the apartheid conditions created by the Howard government's intervention, which has been
extended under Labor. There's been a 40% increase in Indigenous incarceration, a doubling of instances of attempted suicide and self-harm, thousands of jobs lost as community employment programs
are shut down.

"The Stronger Futures laws currently before parliament allow a maximum of an 18-month prison term for having a six-pack of beer on Aboriginal land regardless of community wishes. Hundreds of millions are set to be wasted on an even more punitive income management program, while a further 2000 Aboriginal workers will be sacked from their Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) jobs by April."

"Crises of incarceration, health and unemployment continue to grip Aboriginal communities across the country. The deep-seated anger of this demonstration was directed both at Gillard and Abbott because both champion discriminatory policies".

"STICS is building a rally at parliament house in Canberra on Tuesday February 28, when parliamentary debate on continuing the Intervention will reopen.”