As we celebrate the courage and the achievements of Eddie Koiki Mabo we all walk in his determined footsteps in our hope for a brighter future. The Mabo family asked me to paint you a picture of how Australia can offer an example to the world, if we achieve what that passionate man dreamed of, if we do it with reason and common sense, and if we show the care and respect that will create here in the 21st Century a Great Society like none the world has ever seen.
The great power of Vincent Lingiariʼs story is that it teaches us how this land sings to us all, how it holds us and nurtures us. This is the common ground that we share. When the Gurindji leader and his people walked off Wave Hill Station, camping by the Victoria River and then eventually by Wattie Creek at Dagaragu almost half a century ago, they understood that the land was their birthright and their destiny.
Traditional owners across Arnhem Land will resist the federal government’s proposed 10-year extension of the Northern Territory intervention by refusing to surrender Aboriginal land through 40 year leases. When the five-year leases imposed by the government’s declared "emergency" end in August this year, the most respected Aboriginal leaders across the Top End will not enter into any new land lease agreements until the draconian and discriminatory Stronger Futures legislation is shelved.
This article first appeared in Tracker magazine on March 19. * * * Aboriginal leaders in the Northern Territory have issued a strong warning that the Australian government’s new land grab in the form of the proposed 10-year extension of the intervention will send many communities into a dangerous downward spiral with still more death and misery.
The Australian media, collectively, does a dismal job of telling the story of our silent apartheid, the space between black and white Australians. The new assimilation, well underway in the Northern Territory, has the same intent as government policies of past eras, still aiming to change Aboriginal people, restrict the importance of their law, language and cultural practice, and move many from their ancestral lands into new housing estates that, we are promised, will materialise magically in great little Aussie growth towns.