Darwin

With scores of anti-fracking protesters outside, the Australian Labor Party Northern Territory conference voted on February 13 to approve a moratorium on any development of the fracking industry while critical scientific studies on its impacts are carried out.
The Northern Territory has the highest rate of youth detention in the country. The detention rate of young people is six times the national average and 97% of those detained in the juvenile justice system are Aboriginal youth. There have been a number of reports and investigations in the past two years into the treatment of Aboriginal youth while held in custody. They show quite clearly that by deliberate design and policy Aboriginal youth in are treated in a barbarous, inhumane and illegal way.
The Northern Territory government rejected an application to explore for unconventional gas in Watarrka National Park, also known as Kings Canyon, and Coomalie on the edge of the Litchfield National Park, on November 25. The Traditional Owners have been fighting to protect the areas from fracking for three years. More than 90% of the Northern Territory is covered by gas exploration licences, or applications for fracking exploration.

The campaign against fracking in the Northern Territory ramped up a few notches last week, with the government announcing a successful bidder in the North East Gas Interconnector project coming amid allegations of a conflict of interest for a key NT government advisor.

Darwin’s Bagot community launched its Painting Home Project on November 7. It was the culmination of a seven-week collaboration between Aboriginal artists, Bagot residents, street artists from as far away as Melbourne, and other arts and cultural workers.
Thirteen years after launching their land claim, the Mithaka people of south-west Queensland were granted native title over more than 33,800 square kilometres of their land and waters on October 27. This is one of the largest successful native title determinations in Queensland history: the claim area covers land and waters in the Diamantina and Barcoo shires, and in the expansive Channel Country of outback Queensland.
Paediatricians and health workers and researchers in Darwin gathered at the Royal Darwin Hospital campus on October 29 to make a public statement that "Detention Harms Children". The protest followed the weekly Paediatric Grand Round meeting that focused on the impact of trauma on refugee and asylum seeker children. Staff from Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne and Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane have held similar protests in recent weeks.
Disturbing allegations came to light on September 21 about the trouble-plagued Northern Territory juvenile justice system. Fifteen-year-old Travis, who spent time at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre last year, told a youth justice forum about the humiliation and depravation inside the centre. According to the ABC, Travis said staff at Don Dale made young people fight and eat animal faeces in exchange for extra junk food.
More than 300 people, and 22 horses, marched on the Northern Territory parliament on September 15 to demand a moratorium on unconventional gas production in the NT as part of the Our Land is Our Life rally. The rally was organised by Frack-free NT and included contingents from Aboriginal communities, unions, farmers and environment groups. Larrikeyah elder June Mills opened with a fiery welcome to country and a smoking ceremony, condemning what she called “white man’s law” that threatened water supplies and livelihoods.
More than 800 workers gathered in Bicentennial Park on August 23 to protest against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in a rally organised by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks told the crowd Chinese companies need invest only 15% in a project worth at least $150 million to be able to bring in workers from overseas who are not subject to labour market testing. For as little as $22.5 million, a Chinese investor in a joint venture with an Australian company can avoid paying Australian wages and conditions.
Kumanjayi Langdon, 59, from Yuendumu in Central Australia, died of heart failure in Darwin Police Watch House on May 21 — “on a concrete bench with two strangers” — three hours after being taken into custody following a paperless arrest “for drinking in a regulated place”. At the inquest into Langdon’s death, Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavenagh found he died from natural causes but should have been able to die in freedom, with his family and friends. "In my view Kumanjayi Langdon had the right to die as a free man," Cavanagh said.
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.
A group of Free West Papua supporters attended a morning tea fundraiser in Darwin on August 2. The special guest was foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop. We wanted to meet her to discuss human rights in West Papua. Bishop was the key speaker. She took a few questions from the crowd but, although she knew I wanted to speak to her, she ignored me every time.
Last Sunday I was arrested while attempting to obstruct war rehearsal operations at Lee Point. Despite standing in the water off Lee Point, right in the path of the US Navy LCAC amphibious craft, it continued to rush back and forth past me until I was removed from the area by water police. Its final pass, before I was plucked from the water by police, came so close that the bow wave knocked me over. I was disappointed that I was unable to present enough of a hindrance to at least delay them while they waited for my removal.
Over the weekend of July 4 and 5, West Papuan solidarity activists visited Darwin to work with Aboriginal people to protest and organise against the Australian government’s complicity in atrocities committed by Indonesian forces against independence activists in West Papua. The weekend included forums, band nights and a smoking ceremony to commemorate the Biak massacre in 1998. On July 6, the participants set up a protest embassy on the lawns near Northern Territory Parliament House.
Clashes erupted on April 15 at the Wickham Point detention centre in Darwin when refugees resisted attempts to send them back to the Australian-run concentration camp in Nauru where they have suffered serious human rights abuses.

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