Youth candidates to witness NT intervention


In July, Socialist Alliance election candidates will be taking a trip to the Northern Territory to personally witness conditions under the federal government's intervention into Aboriginal communities.

SA youth candidates — and Resistance members — Jess Moore, Zane Alcorn and Ewan Saunders will join Indigenous activists, students, community groups and campaigners from across the country in Alice Springs for an important gathering of intervention-affected Aboriginal communities.

As Aboriginal rights activists, they are part of the national campaign to repeal the intervention, and will return home more aware and more inspired to act against injustice and wage effective solidarity campaigns.

Jess Moore, candidate for Cunningham

The intervention promised to "close the gap", but it only delivered racism.

Aboriginal people continue to be disadvantaged and discriminated against. They are being forced to live in Third World conditions in wealthy Australia, under legislation that required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.

For access to essential goods, services and infrastructure — a basic right for white Australia — communities are being forced to sign over their land rights. It’s a policy of starving people out to take their land.

All those who support social justice have a responsibility to put the human impact of the racist intervention on the agenda this election. Out of sight cannot be out of mind. We must put an end to this!

Calls to fund infrastructure and social services in all Aboriginal communities across Australia need to be actively supported. Local community control, which has been undermined by successive governments, must be restored.

The movement for Aboriginal rights must take its lead from Aboriginal-led resistance, such as the Ampilatwatja walk-off. The convergence of activists and traditional owners at the "Defending Indigenous Rights: land, law, culture" convergence is an enormous opportunity to do just this.

It is an important means to further the campaign against the intervention, to protect and advance Aboriginal land rights and culture, draw attention to the struggle for justice and to support Aboriginal people.

Zane Alcorn, candidate for Newcastle

We need to stand behind the first people of this country and fight for their land and cultural rights. The government's so-called concern for Aboriginal welfare and living conditions is nothing but a cloak for a blatant land grab.

The uranium-rich land of central Australia is coveted by government and private mining corporations alike. Aboriginal land rights are a direct threat to this potential source of huge wealth.

The fact that the Australian Labor Party abolished its "no new mines" policy in 2007 shows it's more concerned about keeping private profits healthy than granting land rights and ownership to Aboriginal people.

More and more of the NT is being opened up to greedy and dangerous mining corporations. The Arid Lands Environment Centre in Alice Springs said that between January 2007 and April 2008, the NT government granted 386 exploration licences, 193 of which were to companies specifically interested in the exploration and mining of uranium.

Uranium mining in and around central Australia is a grossly destructive practice that desecrates Indigenous sacred sites, destroys water supplies and has many negative impacts on people and the environment.

The campaigns against uranium mining and waste dumping in central Australia — such as that waged by the people of Muckaty — are about both Aboriginal land rights and protecting the environment.

Uranium mining uses vast amounts of water. It exposes workers and people within hundreds of kilometres of the mine and tailings dams to toxic radon gas. Safeguards on the sale of Australian uranium, intended to prevent the use of uranium for weapons, are inadequate and simply free up non-Australian uranium for weapons production.

Nuclear waste will remain extremely toxic for tens of thousands of years and cannot be stored safely in the long term.

Traditional owners have the simple solution — “leave it in the ground”. Modern renewable energy can provide baseload power, is cheaper than nuclear, and infinitely safer.

Uranium mining has to go, along with the racist government policies used to justify and continue the theft of Aboriginal land. At the convergence, we will meet with Indigenous people standing up to the nuclear industry, including activists from Muckaty and Angela Pamela campaigns.

Ewan Saunders, candidate for Brisbane

As Socialist Alliance candidates visit the NT in July to attend a national Indigenous and non-Indigenous convergence, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott will be sitting a very comfortable distance away from the communities affected by the NT intervention.

It makes for a revealing comparison: they can disagree on taxing the mining mega-corporations, but they can agree on stripping away the hard-won land rights of Aboriginal people in this country to hand over the land to mining interests.

They probably publicly agree on a "fair go" for all (at least in rhetoric), and in the same breath they'll agree on policies that see black queues and white queues at the supermarket checkout in 21st century Australia.

Gillard and Abbott will be looking for the big issue that can differentiate them in the coming federal election. We can be sure of one thing: it's not going to be the government's racist, assimilationist, land-grabbing policies towards Aboriginal people in this country.

As candidates for the Socialist Alliance, we'll be spending part of our election campaign in Alice Springs — but not for any photo opportunity, or to make empty promises.

We'll be planning and organising, along with hundreds of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, against the archaic, racist policies of the NT intervention. Policies that seek to make sure Aboriginal people never see equality, and never win the rights that have been taken away.

The Socialist Alliance stands for justice for all people. We're sick of bipartisan racism. We're sick of the powerful keeping the powerless under their thumb. We demand an end to the intervention and for land to be returned to Aboriginal people.

We stand with the Aboriginal rights movement that is growing in strength. The Alice Springs convergence will be a decisive step forward in this struggle.