Aboriginal activists run for Greens in NT

August 7, 2010
Warren H. Williams. Photo: Greens.org.au

More 150 people turned out in Darwin on August 3 for the launch of the Australian Greens Northern Territory Senate campaign.

The Greens are running two Aboriginal candidates: country music performer and Arrente man Warren H. Williams and Aboriginal rights activist Barbara Shaw

A big part of their campaign is opposition to the NT intervention, launched in 2007 in response to allegations of child abuse and neglect in remote Aboriginal communities.

As part of the intervention, Aboriginal welfare recipients had half their incomes “quarantined” — restricted to purchases of food, clothing and medical supplies at specified stores — often a long way from communities.

The Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) had to be suspended for the intervention to become law.

Shaw and Williams spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Peter Robson.

Barbara Shaw

I’m proud to stand for the Greens, a party that stands for sustainable communities. I think people should be allowed to travel through the NT without being confronted by a uranium mine.

There is also the issue of the Muckaty nuclear waste dump in the NT. How can the government proceed with this proposal without the informed prior consent of the traditional owners? They haven’t been consulted — no-one has been consulted.

To take nuclear waste to this site, if it’s from Lucas Heights in New South Wales, it has to go through three states. What if there’s an accident?

That’s why I’m proud to stand for a party promoting clean energy. We want to see our energy come from solar and wind power, not uranium mines.

I’ve been campaigning against the NT intervention since in was introduced in 2007. This is a big part of my campaign.

Despite the promises, housing for Aboriginal people in the NT has not improved at all. The authorities are focusing on quantity over quality and there’s still a great deal of overcrowding. A lot of the houses aren’t appropriate for our people.

Aboriginal people have resisted the intervention from the beginning. As of this month, all people on Centrelink payments in the territory, regardless of race, will be put on welfare quarantining.

It costs $7000 per person per year to administer this system. It’s done nothing for us and it won’t do anything for other people subjected to it.

I’d like to see the RDA restored fully. Instead, they are moving what was a racialised policy into a class policy. This is now going to be a policy that discriminates against people of a particular class, rather than just one race.

But it will still be mostly Aboriginal people affected by this policy.

I believe that there should be more jobs for our people, there’s not enough in the territory. I want to represent people of the NT — the major parties don’t do that.

I’m proud to stand for a party that believes in human rights, not a resurrected Howard or Labor’s broken promises.

Warren H. Williams

I’m running for the Greens because I feel let down by the major parties. We vote for them and they don’t represent us.

I’m campaigning to end the NT intervention, against the Muckaty nuclear waste dump and for the environment. The environment is very important to me.

I don’t think the government is doing enough for Aboriginal housing. Most of the houses built have been for administrators, not the people that need them. Overcrowding is a big issue.

I’m also campaigning to restore bilingual education. I believe it’s important that our kids have the right to speak and be taught in their own language, not just in English.

The NT government made it so that teachers would be forced to teach only in English for the first four hours of the school day.

The environment and climate change is very important to Aboriginal people in the NT. We live on our land. If we keep killing it off, we won’t have anything.

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