Watching the Abbott publicity machine in action this week has been sickening.
Visiting cows in his freshly pressed suit was just the beginning. Clueless!
Off he jetted to his annual ‘community visit”. “While I’m here” he thought, “I’ll visit Eddie Mabo’s grave site on Murray Island”.
It was abhorrent.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was a remarkable Australian man from the Torres Strait Islands known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius (“land belonging to nobody”) which characterised Australian law with regard to land and title.
Photographs can create a wonderful illusion. An illusion that Tony Abbott cares for Indigenous Australians. They certainly don’t portray a man whose government has cut hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from essential services for Aboriginal people. Whilst his photo ops in Aboriginal communities make the front pages of the mainstream media, the funding cuts are announced in small snippets buried somewhere on page 19.
Meanwhile (while Tony is off on another photo op), here is what is really happening. Here is how much he and the governments around this country really care.
A Tasmanian council is pressing ahead with a move to have Aboriginal land reclaimed by the state, despite failing to gain support from fellow councils.
The issue was raised at the annual meeting of the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT).
The Circular Head Council believes some land is not being properly managed and wants the State Government to proclaim the areas state reserves instead.
Witt Boooka found himself allegedly on the wrong side of the law after he and supporters “reclaimed” the Belli Park Mimburi site, which had been used for Aboriginal gatherings after being bought by the state government for the proposed Traveston Crossing dam.
Since that plan was knocked out by then federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, the land was leased to a grazier.
Mr Boooka’s supporters claimed cattle on the property were destroying its value as a sacred site.
Witt Booka was arrested, though he has now been released.
In Western Australia
2 communities closed down, 148 to go.
The closure and demolition of this community was condemned by many including Amnesty International Australia. They stated: The WA Government must stop Oombulgurri demolitions after forcibly evicting community members.
In a letter to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations), Ghillar Michael Anderson (Convener and Joint Spokesperson of Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic) wrote:
“As the appointed Ambassador of the original Aboriginal Embassy, the Convener of the Sovereign Union and Head of State, Euahlayi Peoples Republic, I herewith bring to your attention the humanitarian crisis that has now developed in the state of Western Australia.
This crisis is a consequence of the Western Australian government’s policy of shutting down up to 150 Aboriginal homelands and communities, which they have wrongly stated to be financially ‘unsustainable’ and economically unviable. We regard these actions as an act of war and aggression against the various tribal Nations in Western Australia.
Already we have seen the Lockridge Aboriginal community in Perth bulldozed with impunity after the Commonwealth government of Australia had just completed building new dwellings.
The people are homeless and have now crowded into other family homes creating massive overcrowding, which leads to family confrontation and lateral violence that affects not only children but adults alike.
In the northern part of Western Australia the Aboriginal community of Oombulgurri was progressively closed down: First, the government closed the services. … then eventually the electricity and water were turned off. Finally, the 10 residents who resolutely stayed to the end were forcibly evicted, …
I call upon Your Excellency to make this humanitarian crisis known throughout the world. Furthermore, we ask that Your Excellency assist in the immediate provision of safeguards and protection of the refugee camp and to provide appropriate aid for the health and well-being of the refugees.”
For the Western Australian government to now dispossess and displace the Peoples of these homelands is designed to facilitate an expeditious expansion of mining interests and other developments.
WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier said Amnesty International Australia’s campaign was ill-informed.
On Heirisson Island
Homeless First Nations people have set up a camp on Heirisson Island, Perth.
In a recent media statement WA Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Peter Collier, commented that the establishment of the refugee camp by the Djurin Republic (Nyoongar Nation) on Matargarup also known as Heirisson Island in the middle of the Swan River adjacent to the city of Perth itself, was a preemptive act without cause, while at the same time stating that nothing will happen to these communities within the next two years. I do not think that the Minister gave any thought to what he was saying when he made this comment, for it certainly gives no comfort to those who have now been targeted.Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, has sent in the police riot squad numerous times to remove and shut down this refugee camp.
Where will these homeless people go?
Coonana is a remote community that the Western Australian government has canceled all funding to.
Due to these funding cuts the community has no water and no power. The school has closed down, the community shop has closed down and the health centre has also been forced to close down.
Slowly, the people of Coonana left their traditional home and moved to other communities such as Tjuntjuntjarra: a 7-8 hour drive north east of Coonana and 170ks west of Kalgoorlie. Annette is the only person left and needs our help.
(If you are able, please donate to save Coonana via this link).
If you have read any of my previous articles, you will see what I believe is the true intention behind the forced closures of communities.
I think people are still waiting to find out why legislation for recognition in the constitution was passed in WA without any due democratic process. What’s more, there was no opposition in parliament. Josie Farrah and Colin Barnett have some explaining to do.
Tony, you’re in charge of this circus, please explain!
In the Northern Territory
Toxic beef and fish have turned up in the Northern Territory. (I wonder if Tony ate any beef or fish during his visit?)
What will be done for the communities that did?
It is alleged that the McArthur River Mine is responsible for the potential contamination of more than 400 cattle in the Northern Territory’s Roper River region. The McArthur River mine (MRM) is one of the world’s largest producers of lead, zinc and silver.
The Department of Primary Industries announced on Friday, the cattle have been potentially contaminated with dangerous toxins after wandering onto a mine site in the Northern Territory’s Roper River region, but did not name the mine for legal reasons.
Half the cattle have been shot and the remainder quarantined amid concern about the contamination of other animals in the remote region about 900km south-east of Darwin.
It’s not just the cattle that have been affected fish too.
Mining giant Glencore and the NT Health Department did not act on a recommendation from the Chief Health Officer to warn people living near the McArthur River Mine to not eat fish from three locations, Northern Territory Government documents show.
For more than a year Borroloola’s Indigenous clans have worried reactive waste rock on McArthur River Mine and leaking tailings dams could be health risks and have been asking the Giles Government to tell them whether it is safe to eat fish from nearby waterways.
I didn’t see Tony visiting any of these people.
Also in the Northern Territory
The controversial paperless arrest law in the Northern Territory has come under fire from both the Territory coroner and the Top Ends peak Aboriginal legal Aid Service following claims that the law will contribute to more Aboriginal deaths in custody.
The Northern Territory’s paperless arrest laws put adults and children at risk of arbitrary detention by police and unfairly target disadvantaged Indigenous people. If these laws are not repealed, more Indigenous people will be locked up and more unnecessary deaths in custody will follow.
The Stringer sets it straight on the alarming number of suicides across Australia: The record-high suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the result of the racist policies of one government after another. Government after government have degraded the majority of their communities to the most abominable social health quotients.
They have denied Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities an equivalency of social wealth enjoyed by non-Aboriginal communities.
They should have been entitled to this equivalent social wealth with which to navigate two cultural settings without impost.
In trying to understand the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides we must shift from focusing per se on the individual and instead focus on the circumstances.
And of course what publicity campaign is not complete without the visits to schools? It’s a great photo opportunity with the kiddies.
Abbott and his truant officers did the rounds.
It seems directives must have come from the Liberal Party to seize a few photo opportunities with other members visiting schools outside their jurisdiction soon. You can expect to see those photos popping up next week.
Here’s a suggestion for all of the politicians out there. Why not start teaching the true history of how Australia was colonised in the school system? Throw in a bit about First Nations culture while you’re at it. You will of course have to learn about it yourself first. You never know, it might even help to stamp out racism in this country.
On a personal note, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the families of Jack Sultan Page, Peter ‘Rabbit and his mother and Julieka Dhu. Australia will never know the struggles that you face on a daily basis. My heart goes out to you all.
If you are unaware of the tragedy of these people and their families, read the links below (Warning to First Nations people, these links contain images and names of the deceased).
In My Dreams
The political system in this country has failed and will continue to fail until First Nations people have true representation within Parliament.
For this to happen, a democratic vote Nationwide needs to happen at a State and Federal level. In my dreams, I see a third tier to parliament, with every portfolio covered for First Nations people. Only then will justice be served to the people of Australia. I’ll leave that up to the elders, these are just my thoughts.
On a positive note Eddie Mabo had a star named after him, a fitting tribute for an amazing man. What will your legacy be, Tony (and company)? I don’t see a star being named after you. Perhaps a storm, maybe. Yes, a storm. You’ve created a storm which has left nothing but destruction in its wake.
Please feel free to view my artwork about Indigenous Australia on my Facebook page:
First Nations across Australia (Warning to First nations people, these links contain images and names of the deceased).