Peter Robson

About 80 people gathered on July 28 at the Holiday Inn on Darwin’s Esplanade for one of the federal government’s Stronger Futures “consultations”. One woman said: “It’s a bit late, mate.”
The Environment Centre Northern Territory released a new document on July 20 that detailed several disastrous events over the recent wet season at the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu national park. The document revealed ongoing seepage from the tailings storage facility at the mine. It also said the mine was unable to effectively deal with the millions of litres of contaminated water generated.
Sara Hudson, a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, recently wrote a comment piece on ABC’s Drum Opinion that supported the Northern Territory intervention. It also attacked public land title in remote Aboriginal communities. The article was what you might expect from a research fellow from the conservative think tank. "Public bad, private good", and so on. But one passage stood out to me, given I had visited many remote Aboriginal communities recently.
A dozen protesters gathered outside the April 13 annual general meeting of Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) to call for the Ranger uranium mine to be closed because a dam containing radioactive mine tailings is close to overflowing. Protesters dressed as clowns and set up a wading pool full of “nuclear waste” to highlight the risks of radioactive contamination that the “clowns” at ERA are ignoring. They said it was apt that the meeting was held at Darwin’s Sky City Casino because ERA was gambling with nuclear safety.
One hundred and thirty people packed out a room in the Crowne Plaza hotel to hear traditional owners and nuclear experts call for the closure of the Ranger uranium mine in the world heritage-listed Kakadu national park. Yvonne Margarula condemned the mine for its presence on land that is sacred to her people — the Mirrar people. “The promises never last,” she said. “But the problems always do.”
Despite crisis levels of overcrowding, many urban Aboriginal communities have been denied federal funding for new housing. On March 18, ABC online said town camps around Darwin were not allocated any of the $1.5 billion in upgrades planned for Aboriginal communities.
Twenty people gathered on March 21 in Mitchell Park to commemorate the victims of the March 11 tsunami in Japan. The gathering made paper cranes and heard from Sachi Hirayama from Darwin Youth for the Japanese Disaster who promoted charity events for the cause. Cat Beaton read a statement from Environment Centre Northern Territory saying that people’s thoughts were with those who lost loved ones as a result of the natural disaster but also with the workers struggling to rebuild after the devastation.
The federal ALP government is pushing ahead with the punitive system of “income management” despite the fact that it is racist, unfair and expensive. In June 2010, the federal government passed legislation allowing the extension of welfare quarantining beyond the 73 Northern Territory remote communities that were its first target.
A dozen protesters gathered outside Darwin Magistrates Court on March 8 to call for an end to the detention of asylum seeker children. The protest was held outside the trial of six teenage asylum seekers, who faced charges with various offences resulting from a scuffle in Darwin immigration detention centre in February. Richard Davis from the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network told ABC Darwin that the youths should not have been charged.
Media reports paint Alice Springs as being in the midst of an out-of-control crime wave. Action for Alice, a group of local business owners, has produced a commercial for Imparja television. The ad calls for a law and order push to end the alleged crime wave, which it blames on Aboriginal youth. The level of hysteria reached a new pitch in an article by Nicolas Rothwell in the February 19 Australian. Rothwell claimed that Alice Springs was plagued by rampaging young Aboriginal people, fuelled by alcohol.

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