Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin released the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Report on Consultations on October 18. The federal government facilitated “community consultations” across the NT between June and August, discussing future policy toward Aboriginal communities after the Northern Territory Emergence Response (NT intervention) legislation expires in June next year.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, has slammed the Northern Territory intervention, saying that it is making the problems facing Aboriginal Australians worse, AAP reported on October 7. He said the government’s “top-down externally driven” efforts to close the gap on Aboriginal socio-economic disadvantage were instead having the opposite effect”. Amnesty was appalled that current policies had in effect caused “forced evictions from their traditional homelands”.
iNTervention Intervention Curated by Teena McCarthy & Brendan Penzer The Vanishing Point gallery 565 King Street, Newtown, Sydney January 13-30 “The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.... “We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country....
Your article “What's behind the NT intervention” (GLW #843) outlines the government's goal of forced assimilation of Aboriginal communities. Under the intervention, millions of dollars worth of assets and housing has been seized from Aboriginal community councils and thousands of Aboriginal jobs have been lost as Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) close down. Then prime minister John Howard declared in 2007 that: "Aboriginal people have no future outside the Australian mainstream.”
One of Australia’s richest men, mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, used Australian television on October 24 to send an address to the nation about his “Generation One” campaign, which aims to “close the gap” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I don’t have any air-time, but I do have page space. This is my address to Twiggy. * * * Dear Mr Forrest, I think we have something in common (yes, I’m surprised too).
Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest had an opportunity on ABC’s November 1 screening of Q&A to defend his record on Aboriginal employment. He didn’t do very well. “You can see that through Generation One, a real challenge to fill those jobs, because we've proven for all time that corporate Australia — in fact every Australian — isn't racist”, Forrest said. “We do love our first Australians. We do want to help them as much as we can but we can do it without just throwing money, and I believe I could do more.”
King Brown Country: The Betrayal of Papunya by Russell Skelton 260 pages Allen & Unwin $35 REVIEW BY MAT WARD The Northern Territory community of Papunya is known worldwide for its Aboriginal art. But this book by Melbourne Age reporter Russell Skelton paints a very different picture of it. Papunya, says Skelton, is "a metaphor for all that has gone wrong with Indigenous policy since the 1970s". He says former prime minister Gough Whitlam's policy of self-determination for Aboriginal communities in the 1970s was "unworkable and unsustainable".
Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory "want to work, want to have a go”, Aboriginal activist Mark Fordham told 60 people at Brisbane’s Kurilpa Hall on October 24. Fordham is a former Community Development Employment Projects co-ordinator at Ampilatwatja community and is a member of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union. Fordham had spent the previous two weeks touring the east coast, speaking with unions and community groups about the effect the federal government’s intervention into NT Aboriginal communities has had on employment.
Mark Fordham, an Aboriginal activist from the Northern Territory and member of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, is touring the east coast to raise awareness about the jobs with justice campaign. The campaign aims to force the government to provide real jobs and services to remote Aboriginal communities in the NT (see article page 7). In Sydney, Fordham spoke to waterside workers with Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) officials. He thanked maritime workers for their solidarity with the Gurindji workers who walked off Wave Hill station in 1966.
On October 20, 200 people gathered in the community of Kalkarindji to protest against the policies of the Northern Territory intervention, launched in 2007 by the Howard Coalition government. Under the intervention, Aboriginal welfare recipients in the NT have half their pay “quarantined” onto a Basics Card, which can be used only in approved stores and only for food, clothing and medical supplies.
The Greens and the Australian Labor Party signed an agreement on September 1 to form a minority government on certain conditions, one of which was support for amendments to the constitution to recognise Aboriginal people. The government has agreed to hold a referendum on the issue. The proposal has sparked debate among Aboriginal activists about its usefulness for the Aboriginal rights struggle.
Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity and Eora College art exhibition opened at the Boomalli Aboriginal Arts Gallery on September 22 to a crowd of 50 people. The exhibition was based on the theme of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The artworks were produced by talented students from the Eora TAFE College. The Demand Dignity campaign aims to eradicate poverty by making human rights law. As part of the campaign, Amnesty International has criticised Australia’s NT intervention policy, which was launched by the Coalition government of John Howard in 2007.
The following speech was delivered by Jeff McMullen to a September 8 meeting in Parramatta, organised by Reconciliation for Western Sydney. * * * If you are out under the stars tonight, look up. We live in a world of wonder and this is our shimmering moment in the greater scheme of things. The Aboriginal ancestors who walked this land before us developed in their sophisticated knowledge system the concept of custodianship to keep life in balance. It is one of the keys to the strength and resilience of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.
The Socialist Alliance national office has produced its analysis of the August 21 federal election. It traces the precise mix by electorate of the increased Green, Coalition, independent and informal vote, produced as voters deserted Labor. The differences among the seat-by-seat contests in an Australian federal election have never been so great. The general disillusionment with the two major parties expressed itself in quite different ways in different electorates and areas.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) slammed the policies of the Northern Territory intervention in a report released on August 27. The report said that despite Australia seeing itself as a country without racism, laws such as the NT intervention showed that racism had become “embedded” in Australian life. The committee said the NT intervention “continued to discriminate on the basis of race as well as the use of so called special measures by [Australia]”.
A 2006 episode of the ABC’s Lateline program led directly to the greatest human rights abuse in the past half century, said founder and former editor of the National Indigenous Times Chris Graham, at a public forum of 150 people in Sydney on September 3.