About 40 people gathered in Raintree Park, Darwin, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20. Larrikiah woman June Mills opened the gathering with a rendition of Arafura Pearl, and an explanation of the Aboriginal practice of welcoming strangers to their land. Other speaker included Greens councillor Robin Knox, Tamil-Australian lawyer Kajaliny Ranjithkuma and Reverend Basil Schild. A minute’s silence was held for the 62-year-old refugee from Afghanistan who was found dead at Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre on June 15.
Australia’s first Aboriginal parliamentary leader, Adam Giles, announced on May 13 that his government would increase the number of Aboriginal children removed from their families. Concerns that a new stolen generation could be created were putting children at risk, he said.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills was replaced by Adam Giles in a sudden leadership coup on March 13, while Mills was in Japan on a trade mission. This shift has led to backdowns from the Country Liberal Party (CLP) on some regressive policies but could pave the way for more attacks in the future. Crikey’s Bob Gosford predicted the spill on March 5 and wrote a detailed account of it.
The Northern Territory government passed new mandatory sentencing laws on February 14 that will increase the minimum time offenders spend in prison and restrict judges’ right to suspend sentences for certain crimes. NT justice minister John Elferink told AAP on February 14: "These new mandatory minimum sentences correct the failed attempt by the former Labor government to be tough on crime."
Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills announced a deal on February 8 to secure power for the Nhulunbuy bauxite mine and alumina refinery. The deal was hailed as saving the community through protecting the industry that provides it with half its jobs. But the decision has disastrous environmental impacts and shows the lack of choices available to remote communities under the logic of the mining market. To survive, communities are asked to provide public funds to private companies to perform environmentally damaging activity.
Allegations raised by former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks that he was drugged as a form of torture by US staff have been substantiated by documents uncovered in recent legal action in the US. Detainees were allegedly drugged by US military personnel before interrogation sessions and before they had their charges read to them.
Pressure from trade unions and human rights groups has stopped plans by South African authorities to charge striking mine workers with the massacre of 34 of their own comrades. Those killed had been shot by police on August 16. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been competing for members at the Lomin mining corporation's platinum mine at Marikana in South Africa.
The remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community of Amoonguna said on August 23 that it wants its power back and refused to renew a five-year government lease, which expired on August 17. Amoonguna, 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, has also started legal action to remove all government workers from its land.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) may soon have a win against the mining corporation they allege has used dirty tactics and manipulation to force them into a mining deal they don’t want. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), owned by mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, said it had secured the permission of traditional owners to start production on its $5 billion Solomon Hub iron ore project on Aboriginal land near Roebourne, WA.
The August 25 Northern Territory elections have degenerated in to a “law and order” slugfest between the Labor Party and the Country Liberals, but there are still some progressive candidates running who may do well.