The Country Liberal government of the Northern Territory announced on October 26 it was extending a reservation over Darwin’s rural area to “protect rural and rural-residential areas of the Greater Darwin region from oil and gas development”. “Whilst the Country Liberal government is open for business, we know it is not practical to have oil and gas development in the middle of the Greater Darwin Region”, said mines and energy minister Willem Westra van Holthe.
A leaked draft of the second Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, due to be released in March, gives a sobering picture of what lies ahead for Aboriginal communities in Australia as climate change intensifies. Last month, the IPCC said it was 95% certain that human activity was the main cause of climate change. The recent leaked report did not look at the science, but rather the impacts climate change will have, particularly in areas of vulnerability and adaptation.
Groggy Art exhibition by Todd Williams & Therese Ritchie Northern Centre for Contemporary Art Viney Lane, Darwin Until October 12 “My name is Chips Mackinolty and I am an alcoholic … “Everyone assumes that grog is an exclusively Aboriginal problem. That is simply not true. Around 50% of Aboriginal people don’t drink at all. “If the Northern Territory were a nation, we would have the third-highest per capita consumption in the world, and that is not down to Aboriginal Territorians, but to non-Aboriginal people living here.”
About 40 people gathered at Reg Hillier House in Darwin’s rural area on August 15 to discuss threats posed by petroleum companies wanting to explore for oil and gas. Applications for exploration under the Petroleum Act, which could include oil or gas, have reached the outer rural areas including the entire Cox Peninsula, parts of Humpty Doo and Howard Springs, the Dundee area and Litchfield National Park. Exploration may involve using the controversial method of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) if shale gas is found.
Shock facts on Aboriginal people and Australian prisons: * The proportion of Indigenous prisoners has almost doubled in the 20 years since the Royal Commission. * In 2011, Aboriginal people made up 2.5% of the Australian population. They accounted for 46.2% of all youth in juvenile custody and 26.1% of total adult prison population. * In the NT, Aboriginal people made up 30.3% of the total population, 96.9% of the juvenile detention population and 82.3 % of the adult prison population.
This year marks 100 years since the opening of the Kahlin compound in Darwin, a place where Aboriginal children, stolen from their families, were forced to live and work. The compound was closed in 1938, but lives on in the memory of many who were held there — many of whom are still in Darwin today, and would like the site to be recognised and protected as part of their heritage.
Garrumul: His Life & Music Robert Hillman 2013, $65 Dr M Yunupingu, former Yothu Yindi frontman and Gumatj clan member, passed away on June 2 at his home community of Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem Land. It is often the case that we learn more about somebody’s life after they die. As it happened, the week Yunupingu died, I had bought a copy of a beautiful new biography of his nephew, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, known more commonly as Gurrumul.
Representatives from the Environment Centre NT (ECNT) and the Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) travelled to Mataranka on June 13 to host a public meeting about water allocations in the region. The Country Liberal Party government has made changes to the allocation process, which threatens the Roper River region’s environment, as well as pastoral and Indigenous interests.
Delegates arriving at the Australia-China Minerals Investment Summit in Darwin on May 17 were met with about 20 protesters. The group had a strong message for those going into the convention centre: “Stop uranium mining, lock the gates on shale oil and gas, go solar!”
The Country Liberal (CLP) government of the Northern Territory announced sweeping new police powers on May 10 that will, in effect, criminalise drinking across the NT. Police will be able to issue “alcohol protection orders” to anybody charged with an alcohol-related offence that carries a minimum sentence of six months in prison. The orders will be issued for three months at a time (up to 12 months in total), and prevent the person from consuming alcohol or being on licensed premises.
The Northern Territory women’s policy minister, Alison Anderson, told a gathering at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne that “domestic violence has reached a crisis point”, the ABC reported on April 4.
About 120 people attended a public meeting on February 20 to discuss concerns about shale oil and gas exploration in the Northern Territory. The meeting was organised by the Environment Centre NT and brought together a broad panel of speakers — representing the breadth of concern in the community about new and controversial methods of extracting unconventional gas.
About 400 people rallied outside NT parliament on February 12, the first sitting day for 2013, to protest the Country Liberal Party's (CLP) service cuts, job losses and price hikes. The CLP came to power in August, promising to decrease the deficit but pledging "Your job is safe" to concerned public servants. By December, when the government's mini-budget was released, that promise was broken and it was revealed that 600 jobs would be scrapped.
A report has found that focusing on the treatment and rehabilitation, rather than imprisonment, of Aboriginal people facing drug and alcohol-related charges would save state and territory governments up to $110,000 a year for every person.
As often happens at this time of year, in the lead-up to January 26, commentators and activists raised the suggestion that Australia’s national day be moved to a different date. Writing in the January 21 Sydney Morning Herald, Aboriginal MLA in the ACT legislative assembly Chris Bourke said: “Which nation celebrates its national day on the date it was invaded by a foreign power? … The answer, of course, is Australia.”
On September 17, NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh handed down his damning findings regarding the death in custody of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the Alice Springs watch house in January. Briscoe, a young Aboriginal man, had committed no crime, but was taken into so-called protective custody for being excessively drunk. He was found dead in his cell before the night was through. He was found to have consumed most of a bottle of rum in the police van, which he obtained from another prisoner. He was dragged through the watch house and shoved down against a bench, where he hit his head and arm.