Rudd’s Ugly Indigenous Land Grab

The Rudd cabinet is rushing through a national land grab in a proposed compulsory forty year scheme holding Aboriginal communities ransom. In the very week that Australia must answer to the UN in response to human rights complaints of an ongoing nature, latest developments put the plan into perspective and expose the earlier machinations of a comprehensive assault on indigeous Australia. Howard’s NT intervention looks more like an entre as Rudd delivers the main course, an all out offensive against the indigenous nations by means of government coercion and withheld supply to assume control of lands for commercial and other ‘in confidence’ purposes. As the government sells its doom and gloom messages to an arrested nation, Australian history enters another dark alleyway of secret deals, racism and more layers of questionable legislation in an attempt to control remote communities.

While state Aboriginal Lands legislation is being urgently reviewed across the country, there has been no media commentary on either the sudden motivation of these reviews or the apparent synchronisation with NT intervention and several pending Native Title deals in nuclear industry hot-spots. While these issues are being brushed aside, the process of endorsing commercial interests in the equation is being lubricated by a distorted ‘YES’ campaign. The proposed serial legislation is of highly dubious intent and we need to take a good look at where this road is taking us and start asking serious questions as to why any government would knowingly inflict harm upon ‘its’ people. Are we witnessing a mineral war via commercialised legislation feigning legitimacy in what would otherwise be described as acts of acquisition by deception? Despite the Australian media currently sticking its head in the sand, the issue is fast gathering international media attention as the UN puts the spotlight on human rights abuses in remote Australia. Time will tell if Jenny Macklin’s ill-conceived land grab plan will hold up against international scutiny on both legal and moral grounds.

The National Indigenous Times reports ‘Native Title Under Attack from ALP’, but is that the full extent of the story and where lies the cause? One need not be a scholar of Australian history to see the effects of Native Title in creating strife and division in affected communities. Native Title was, from its inception, a commercial venture to enable mining. The inevitable negative social outcomes needed to be distanced from the enterprise and repackaged as a divisive blame game, paving the way for suspension of the Anti-Discrimation Act and military interventions. In this attempt at a commercial clean up of the northern and central zones, the government has crossed a serious line in tampering with both human and common law rights.

In the National Indigenous Times article, Chris Graham describes the urgency of the situation and details of the leaked plan:

In a move that will outrage Aboriginal groups around the nation, aspirant landholders in remote regions are also being targeted, with the government planning to refuse to release Commonwealth housing funds for construction of homes on land that is the subject of an unresolved native title claim or claims.

The plan is currently being restricted to remote regions, and will affect about one quarter of the Australian Indigenous population.

The details of the plan are contained in a startling letter from federal Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin to all state and territory housing ministers last month, a copy of which has been obtained by the National Indigenous Times.

In broad terms, it represents a national roll-out of one of the most controversial parts of the Northern Territory intervention — the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land for the reconstruction of townships.

It’s also an extension of the Northern Territory Aboriginal land rights act amendments, which were introduced by the Howard government in 2007, and strongly opposed by Labor while in opposition.

And it becomes quickly evident that Native Title processing is part of the agenda,

If the plan is enforced, the practice is almost certain to be challenged legally.

But the greatest outrage about the scheme is likely to be directed at the native title provisions, which will fuel growing suspicions Labor is planning to introduce a sunset clause, or deadline, on the native title claims process.

Labor indicated in opposition it would move to speed up the native title process, but preventing the construction of public housing on “undetermined” land is a major policy shift.

The government will also be accused of holding access to an essential service — namely public housing — over the heads of the nation’s poorest citizens to try to leverage quicker native title outcomes through rushed negotiated settlements.

Currently, almost half the Australian land mass is subject to some sort of native title claim process, although not all of that land is situated in remote regions.

Source

Article quoted sourced from Green Left which abridged from National Indigenous Times

Nations Map for illustrative purposes only, maps may vary from time to time, check carefully before assuming anything about the tribal nations of country.

Further Media:

Aboriginals of Australia: Government Attempts Land Grab

Billions to go to remote Aboriginal areas, The Australian March 23, 2009. Unfortunately the article fails to address that the ‘targeted’ communities are being held to ransom on account of the need to fast-trek Native Title business. Jenny Macklin:

“We really want to focus on these areas partly because of the enormous need and the population growth, but also because these are places that because of their size have the opportunity for economic development,” she said.

“If we can get leases for economic development we can see the shops that exist in a normal town of 2000 or 3000 people in other parts of Australia here too.”

In his closing-the-gap report card, the Prime Minister said the director-general would have the authority to cut through red tape and co-ordinate the efforts of community, industry and government organisations to roll out reforms in remote housing, infrastructure and employment.

In his Guardian contribution NT intervention a new land grab‘, John Pilger paints a grim picture of the awful intended purpose of the NT Intervention and the government and media’s role in vilifying Indigenous Australians as some freak of nature, needing to be controlled and tamed, not so original approach from the same same of Colonial Australian history.

They deployed arguments not dissimilar to those used by David Irving to promote Holocaust denial.

Smear by media as a precursor to the latest round of repression is long familiar to black Australians. In 2006, the flagship current affairs program of the ABC, Lateline, broadcast lurid allegations of “sex slavery” among the Mutitjulu people in the Northern Territory.

The program’s source, described as an “anonymous youth worker”, was later exposed as a federal government official whose “evidence” was discredited by the Northern Territory chief minister and the police. The ABC has never retracted its allegations, claiming it has been “exonerated by an internal enquiry”.

The inexplicable continuity and Australian Government silence on nuclear industry risks can be explained perhaps by agreements made which these governments prefer not to share with the Australian people or the indigenous communities feeling the impact of these pacts in their neighborhoods:

Rudd silent on nuclear pact role (The Age, March 19, 2009) : How quickly the worms do turn

The revelation of the Government’s decision to keep Australia in GNEP has triggered a backlash from conservation groups and accusations of hypocrisy from the Opposition. Before the 2007 federal election, Labor attacked former prime minister John Howard’s decision to join GNEP, with frontbenchers Peter Garrett and Chris Evans warning that Australia could become an international nuclear waste dump.

The management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste has proved a controversial aspect of GNEP, which has 25 member countries.

GNEP requires developed nations to export enriched uranium and nuclear technology to poorer countries. Under the plan, spent fuel and nuclear waste would be sent back to developed nations for re-processing and storage in order to minimise proliferation risks.

Aspects of the sudden pre-christmas review in South Australia well covered in advance by the Coober Pedy Times:

WEATHERILL – REVIEW OF THE ABORIGINAL LANDS TRUST ACT 1966

In recent years, Native Title in it’s role as signature hunter for the mining companies, have invented more convenient boundaries. These negotiations are of a secretive nature, the upshot being that the real traditional owners are usually unaware a deal has been struck until they see a company mining on their land. It’s quite intriguing hearing reports on how N/T justify these signature friendly new boundaries and extremely odd signature friendly, new “traditional owners”.

At present, Native Title “deals” are being rushed through rapidly as South Australia faces an economic deficit. The acquisition of aboriginal lands is seeing a new urgency. NO, does not seem to be an option for traditional land owners wishing to retain their tradition of handing land down through their family blood line. If traditional ‘blood’ land owners won’t sign, then Native Title simply invent a new one who will sign by altering the geneology of the land area to include a wider range of “family options”. (see 2.2)

Further Information:

Agreements, treaties and negotiated settlements project (ATNS)

MEDIA RELEASE: John Howard admits Aboriginal land grab intent–  Stephen Muecke Stephen.Muecke at uts.edu.au

"Prime Minister John Howard has this morning admitted, in response to
> questions by Neil Mitchell on Southern Cross radio, that "if" it
> comes to
> taking lands away from Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal
> people, he will
> adequately compensate them", WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this
> morning.
>
> "The Prime Minister's comments, given in his usual, passive, non-
> denialstyle in which he makes an initial admission, using his
> frequently used
> 'policy by stealth' methodology, have outed Mr Howard's true political
> intent of the dramatic 'invasion' of the army against the backdrop
> of health
> and community workers into Aboriginal communities in the Northern
> Territory,with the otherwise valid agenda of creating safety for
> especially the
> children in those communities," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
>
> "It is now abundantly clear, what many pundits have suspected
> during the
> last week," Mr Smit said. "The taking away of lands from Aboriginal
> people,and given those lands over to commercial interests and
> mining companies, was
> always Mr Howard's intent."