From Intervention Lalaland: ‘We demand reparations’

 

PICTURED are Concerned Australians (from left): Alastair Nicholson (Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia),  Barbara Shaw (Alice Springs); Djapirri Murunggirritj (Yirrkala); Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM (Elcho Island); Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM (Utopia); Japata Ryan (Kalkaringi); Harry Nelson (Yuendumu).

 

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

And now, a short excursion into the Lalaland of some Intervention foes.
Wikipedia will tell you reparations are “measures taken by the state to redress gross and systematic violations of human rights law or humanitarian law”.
For example, there is an agreement between Israel and Germany for Holocaust reparations.
So normally, reparations are given to people who have something taken away from them – sometimes a relative’s life  or many relatives’ lives.
“Northern Territory Elders and Community Representatives” as they call themselves, including Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Barbara Shaw, Harry Nelson and supported by – unfathomably – Alastair Nicholson, the former Chief Justice of the Family Court, are now seeking reparations for having received something, namely around a billion taxpayers’ dollars for housing and a string of other services and measures.
By the way, no-one has to be a beneficiary – or victim – of the Intervention: you get a job, buy a house, say “no” to welfare, send your kids to school and live like 96% of Australians do.
Reading a recent media release from the group makes one thing quite clear: the taxpayer is welcome to cough up, so long as the spending isn’t controlled by the elected government, but by the recipients themselves.
Some instructive quotes from the release which alleges the Intervention had caused “hurt, embarrassment, shame and stigma,” encompassed “a punitive policy” and has “been the source of much distress”.
• The recent consultations report shows that Government has failed to take seriously our concerns and feelings.
• Where there are problems, they must be addressed on a case by case basis and preferably with the assistance through the appropriate community channels.
• Respectful discussion and negotiation with community elders did not take place before the introduction of the Intervention.
• These are the people with whom Minister Macklin should be negotiating, rather than with the chosen few, as has been her habit.
• We believe that there should be an honest and comprehensive treaty negotiation with the Australian Government and facilitated by the United Nations.
• We demand that Government hand back to us control over our communities and provide adequate Government, long-term funding  to ensure the future of Homelands.
• We will not support policies that have not been negotiated with all elders of Prescribed communities and we will not support an extension of the Intervention, or an Intervention under other names.
“The only right we now have left is to remain silent.”
Hear, hear.

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. jbone
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    What I find difficult to understand is why is it always the Aboriginal people saying they are being discriminated against? I feel discriminated against everyday as I have to go to work to earn money, I have to pay my mortgage off my house that I had to save and scrimp for. I had to go to school in order to get these things. When I finished school there was no Caucasian scholarship available to me even if my grades weren’t up to scratch. There is no Caucasian night patrol if I am drunk and walking around town to give me a free taxi ride to a place where they will wash my clothes and give me a bed to sleep in and then a free feed in the morning. You feel you have been shamed?? Are you kidding me? The reasons for the intervention were because the large MAJORITY of your race is out of control.
    I am so sick of hearing this poor bugger me attitude. You want to go back to your traditional ways except when things start going wrong which would inevitably be immediately you will be asking for money and expecting to get it straight away … and guess what, you will get it! I wish there was a way we could stop all these ridiculous handouts that the indigenous people of this country get for sitting on there backsides and doing nothing. Guess what, this is not just your land! This is my land and every other Australian’s who was born here.
    I wish I could get some royalties because I know I wouldn’t go and piss it up against a wall and I’m sure if other hard working Australians were given free money we would actually put it to good use! Stop the handouts, stop the sit-down money, stop your complaining. Everyone is sick of it. You must be the only race that is de-evolving, if there is such a thing!

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  2. not surprised
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I would have thought the “hurt, embarrassment, shame and stigma” would have existed long before the intervention came along, and if not, then they are in denial! These policies are here to stay and for good reason.

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  3. Paul Parker
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Re: Georgina (November 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm)
    Georgina and the self-titled “concerned Australians” apparently support racism as they call for fellow Australians to receive different treatment using race as a measure.
    School attendance became compulsory, then amended to again exclude certain races.
    Thus racism, legislation, lack of leadership, meant NT Education, with the Department of Children and Families, failed to seek appropriate orders in courts, to protect families, particularly children, at risk, including for non-attendance at school.
    Central to these failings, with results in communities upon families and individuals, has been the Commonwealth’s ongoing racist, apartheid, approach to public policy – purportedly to extinguish racism and apartheid.
    Public policy in Australia, most of the world, supported by the United Nations, is that all children must be educated so as not to deny them their chance to achieve their potential in life.
    Survey results, concerning compulsory attendance do show some support for cuts to welfare payments of families with children not attending school.
    Objections seem more result of changes to racist flavors.
    Legislation exists for courts to deal with children not attending school, non-attendance regarded as an act of negligence.
    Puzzled why families represented as major causes of non-attendance, when large percentage of non-attendance is amongst teens who may ignore guidance to attend from families and others. Cutting money to house and feed them may influence them – when old enough and start receiving money directly from Centrelink.
    Should families kick them out from home earlier?
    Courts act within legislation to determine facts, then seek to apply most appropriate remedial actions.
    Yet Commonwealth and NTG appear reluctant for such matters to be considered in court.
    Courts determine facts, then usually allow them to be published (without juvenile respondent identification) to educate entire community about the law, so perhaps Commonwealth and NTG seek to hide other failings.

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  4. Georgina
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    n.1
    Paul you missed totally my point. It is about really “hearing” from Aboriginal people.
    On land and many other issues we need to “really hear” and come to understand what people are saying and experiencing: “Hear” further what Elders and leaders are saying about land, culture, the NT Intervention legislation, and of their daily experiences of discrimination and of loss of control; gross injustices.
    “TO THE PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA
    We are the people of the land. The land is our mother. For more than 40,000 years we have been caring for this land. We are its natural farmers.
    Now, after so many years of dispossession, we find once again we are being thrust towards a new dispossession. Our pain and our fear are real. Our people are again being shamed.
    Under the Intervention we lost our rights as human beings, as Australians citizens, as the First People of the Land. We feel very deeply the threat to our languages, our culture and our heritage. Through harsh changes we have had removed from us all control over our communities and our lives. Our lands have been compulsorily taken from us. We have been left with nothing.
    The legislation under which we now live does not comply with international law. It is discriminatory. We are no longer equal to other Australians. We are no longer equal to you.
    As people in our own land, we are shocked by the failure of democratic processes, of the failure to consult with us and of the total disregard for us as human beings. We demand the return of our rights, our freedom to live our traditional lives, support to develop our economic enterprises to develop jobs and to work towards a better future for all our peoples.
    So extreme have been the actions against our people that we must appeal to all people of Australia to walk with us in true equality. Speak out and help to put an end to the nightmare that Northern Territory Aboriginal people are experiencing on a daily basis.
    Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM (Utopia); Rev. Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM (Galiwin’ku); Harry Nelson (Yuendumu); Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM (Nauiyu); Djapirri Mununggirritj (Yirrkala); Dhanggal Gurruwiwi (Yirrkala); George Gaymarani Pascoe (Milingimbi). Feb 7th 2011 Melbourne University Law School.

    Then more recently, “REALLY HEAR” what people said during the recent Stronger Future Consultations. See research paper, “Cuts to Welfare Payments for School Non Attendance – Requested or Imposed?” (Oct 2011) which concludes:- “It is our belief that legislation to link welfare cuts to the parents of non-attending school children will be a pre-determined outcome which will ignore almost totally the suggestions of community residents.
    “If these suggestions were to be addressed this will simply be in addition to the planned legislation to which there is evidence to believe that this is closer to having been imposed than asked for by Aboriginal people.
    “The Government has spent considerable amounts of tax payer money on a very large number of consultations in the Northern Territory. It appears that virtually no weight has been placed on the information provided by the people.
    “Within weeks of ending the process the Department has decided to legislate what it sees as a solution to the problem. This is based on a program that was implemented as a trial some two years ago and which has not yet been evaluated. It is not based on what has been heard from Aboriginal people.
    There is no evidence from these transcripts that a request for welfare cuts has been made.”
    FULL PAPER AT http://www.concernedaustralians.com.au/media/Welfare-Cuts-Requested-or-Imposed.pdf
    It is time to really listen and “hear”.

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  5. Paul Parker
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Re Georgina Posted November 18, 2011 at 9:44 am
    Suspect Georgina already knows these facts, however…
    Contrary to Georgina’s suggestions, families are not losing control of their lives, indeed these leases shall at last provide families greater control of their homes and their lives.
    Contrary to Georgina’s suggestions, control of those vast areas of lands owned by Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Land Trust corporations – and their shareholders, is not lost.
    Commonwealth advises it shall provide funds for housing when the ALR(NT) Land Trusts corporations agree and sign their conventional terms and conditions for such grants / loans.
    The Commonwealth applies similar terms and conditions to almost all offers of grants / loans to other Australians, corporations, NT Government, other State Governments, even to other countries accepting such loans / grants.
    Such grants / loans usually include conditions which may require inclusion of titles to areas of land as part, or all, of the securities from the grant / loan recipient.
    This involves a very small percentage of the land owned by these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporations.
    Land titles used as security are not lost unless the borrowers fail to satisfy the original grant / loan terms.
    IF this happens, then, lenders may take legal action to reclaim, and sell, the collateral or securities.
    These ALR(NT) Land Trust corporations are welcome to seek monies from anyone to subsidize their constructions.
    Georgina may be frustrated to find almost anyone prepared to provide such financial assistance will attach similar terms and conditions for their largess.
    Georgina is frustrated perhaps that our governments at last apply their own financial guidelines for funding.
    Commonwealth may soon remove obstructions preventing these ALR(NT) Land Trust landlords from being held as accountable for disgraceful living conditions in their estates as other landlords.
    All these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporations should first be spending their own monies to construct and maintain their own buildings to acceptable standards upon their own lands.
    Now that could be responsible ownership!

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  6. Georgina
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

    These people have a right to be heard. What do you mean by “LaLaland”! Perhaps a land where we have equal rights and dignity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Where Aboriginal people treated equal under Australian law, and not like second class citizens? Where our social and political institutions respect their human and cultural rights? Where the enormous walls causing disadvantage are torn down.
    “Special measures” have been incorrectly defined by the Australian Government. Then, in order that Aboriginal people could not legally challenge these “racist” measures / policies the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act was simply suspended in 2007 so that the NTER could be rolled out. Many of these so-called special measures, racist policies, have now been entrenched further into Australian law. What was taken away? Human, cultural and event the right to legally challenge these!
    Aboriginal people lost total control of their lives and vast areas of Aboriginal lands “Compulsory acquisition” first and now co-erced leases today are obtained in exchange for basic services and housing. Services main stream society take for granted. Leases of 15, 40, 80 even 99 years. We have to ask: What if this had happened to me? Yet not all communities have / will e.g. receive the promised housing and services.
    Then to top this off where does the money come from to pay for these Government leases? From the ABA! Simply “WRONG” control of Land removed and now this! The taking of Aboriginal money to pay for the Government’s leases. The minister feels this is benefiting Aboriginal people! Outrageous, commissioner, Mick Gooda, said!
    When you read the most recent “closing the gap monitoring report” of the NT you will see the hidden statistics and tragedies emerging. There is increasing socio-economic disadvantage for Aboriginal people, and their health in affected.
    For example, “Since 2007–08 Indigenous hospitalisation rates NT-wide (not just in NTER communities) have increased from 229 per 1,000 to 262 per 1,000. These are extraordinarily high rates unimagined in the broader community.
    Recorded school enrolment and attendance has declined from 64.5 percent in February 2009 to 62.7 percent in February 2011 with total enrolments declining from 8,960 to 8,914, despite rapid population growth. [Then] in the name of job creation, welfare dependence is increasing.”
    Suicides and self harm have also more than doubled. See the rest of John Altman’s recent summary of the latest report on line at: http://tracker.org.au/2011/11/evidently-a-new-intervention/ Jobs for Aboriginal people are highly reduced since the Intervention.
    In NT Aboriginal community’s childhood malnutrition and anemia rates have increased by 66%, and good quality schooling has long been denied. See http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=12754
    There are serious issues and failures under the NT Intervention. Billions of dollars being misspent – money that should have gone into the empowering culturally relevant recommendations of the 2007 Little Children are Sacred report.
    This report was used, its 97 recommendations and nine principles of engagement IGNORED to roll out a Howard / Brough paternalistic agenda that saw the “take over” of Aboriginal lands and communities.
    Control of Aboriginal lives and lands lost, thousands CDEP positions removed so income management could be imposed. Aboriginal people forced into welfare dependency! Community assets lost, Aboriginal councils disbanded.
    On this most recent closing the gap report, Jon Altman said: “Deeply disadvantaged people in remote Northern Territory deserve far better. Policy instruments need to be deployed that generates improvement in absolute, not relative, wellbeing and that can be monitored less ambiguously.
    Who has benefited under the Intervention? Questions must be asked. An apology it seems is warranted!
    These Elders and leaders have a right to be truly “heard” and respected.

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  7. Paul Parker
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Has the Committee raised their complaints with their respective Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Land Trust corporate landlords? The Committee needs take complaints about their housing to their respective ALR(NT) Land Trust corporate landlords.
    Is the Committee raising these issues publicly because their corporate landlords refuse to listen to them ?
    If these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporate entities no longer own the land, they are no longer their landlords.
    Has the Commonwealth stripped these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporate landlords of their titles to ownership of these lands ?
    In My Honest Opinion (IMHO) not yet.
    Have these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporate landlords issued leases – with permission to sublet, to the housing on these lands being complained of?
    IMHO not yet.
    I’m surprised Justice Nicholson fails to clarify these basic facts, of some relevance to the legal issues.
    Or are legal issues like facts and responsibility to be avoided, in preference to playing the emotional game so popular with racists ?
    Until these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporate landlords issue valid leases permitting others to sub-let they remain the responsible landlords.
    Certainly these ALR(NT) Land Trust corporate landlords, and their Land Council agents, need be held accountable for the dismal living conditions in these communities.
    IMHO Commonwealth obstructionism, Commonwealth negligence, or outright Commonwealth racism, contributes significantly to these matters, perhaps culpability, responsibility, for these landlords NOT being held accountable for these dismal housing conditions, failed community developments, failures to improve living conditions, with resultant denial of opportunity to achieve to so many.
    IMHO the Commonwealth needs bluntly tell these landlords to issue all their tenants with valid leases or lose their titles to the land.
    This may legally require the Commonwealth to pay “just compensation”.
    Based upon unimproved capital value, the cost likely to remain less than to date spent by the Commonwealth constructing and repairing these houses – directly or through the NT government.
    What are the unimproved capital values for a standard housing block in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Papunya, Kintore and Yuendumu and others?
    What happens is really up to the ALR(NT) corporate Land Trusts.
    The ALR(NT) corporate Land Trusts may continue to refuse to issue valid leases, to all their tenants, including those residing in houses constructed with public funds.
    Or they can risk losing the land.
    Consider IF these landlords were just another ASX listed corporation as the landlord and behaving like this, what would have happened to them?
    Why should ALR(NT) corporations be treated any different?

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  8. Max
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    This goes to show why the taxpayers of Australia should stop looking after the “Gimme Gimme” tribe take their new Landcruisers off them and send them back into the bush!

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  9. SDS
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Never before in the field of of government welfare has so much been given by so many for so long to so few for no measurable result.
    If I may suggest an anthem for the committee could it be, get a hair cut and get a real job?

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  10. Hal Duell
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Back in the day, and I realise I’m dating myself here, there was a band called The Fugs. Quoting from Amazon.com’s website, the Fugs were, “Formed in Greenwich Village in 1964 by beat poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, The Fugs were a seminal rock group that paved the way for The Mothers of Invention, The Velvet Underground, and generations of alternative, underground, punk, political rock and freak-folk artists.”
    At some point in the ’60s they recorded a song that may have been called “Gimme”. But whatever it was called, it was a send-up of the hippies with the refrain, and possibly the entire lyrics, consisting of the chant, “gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme”.
    I wonder if the Concerned Australians have ever heard of this group, and if they might consider making their recording of “Gimme” their theme song.

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