Mapoon elder slams Lingard over 'straw hut' remarks

Wednesday, November 17, 1999 - 11:00

Mapoon elder slams Lingard over 'straw hut' remarks

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — A leader of the Aboriginal community at Mapoon on the Cape York Peninsula has slammed National Party MP and former Aboriginal affairs minister Kev Lingard over racist remarks made in the Queensland parliament on November 11.

During debate on a bill to establish an Aboriginal council at the Old Mapoon Presbyterian mission near Weipa, Lingard said that Aborigines should not have complained that their homes were burned down because they were just "straw huts".

In an infamous incident in November 1963, armed police raided the Old Mapoon mission, forced the Aboriginal residents into boats and moved them to another settlement at the tip of Cape York, to clear the way for Comalco to open its bauxite mine in the area.

Lingard further claimed that it was not acceptable for a group of Aborigines to move to a beautiful beach somewhere and expect modern facilities.

Mapuna Community Council chairperson Gina Blanco said she was "deeply offended" by Lingard's remarks. She invited politicians to visit the recently resettled community for themselves. They could still see the burnt-out stumps of the old timber and iron houses, she said.

Blanco added that Lingard's remarks were detrimental to reconciliation.

"Lingard is a political dinosaur, but his open racism is still prevalent in Australia", the co-organiser of the Brisbane branch of Resistance, Peter Robson, said on November 13.

"The attack on the Mapoon community in 1963 was an example of the 'ethnic cleansing' which is a major part of the suppressed history of our governments' genocidal policies against the Aboriginal people", Robson said.

"It is high time state and federal governments made partial recompense to the Aboriginal community by legislating for genuine land rights and the provision of fair monetary compensation for past crimes."

From GLW issue 385