Thanks for more ‘us and them’, Ms Macklin and Mr Snowdon

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, which belonged to all of us, which for many of us underpins our livelihood, and for quite a few of us is the very reason why we’re here, will today pass into the ownership of a minority.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin will be presiding at the ceremony. Warren Snowdon won’t be far. We’ll hear the usual litany of reasons, about rectifying dispossession, maintenance of culture and lots of new job opportunities (as opposed to new jobs). But can we rectify dispossession with another kind of dispossession?

Today, with roughly half the landmass in the Northern Territory handed back to traditional owners, can we really argue that the further handover of public assets like a national parks will ameliorate traditional owners’ condition?

Public ownership of certain assets provides some of the glue that holds our society together. If it’s virtually wiped out in Central Australia what’s left to do that?

Well done, Ms Macklin and Mr Snowdon.

Some media will dutifully report this “event”.
What we are unlikely to hear are the answers to the following questions:-
Why has the handover continued in the face of vigorous opposition from people of Alice Springs – until they realised that yet again, their voices would not be heard, their questions, not answered? (Google this site for extensive coverage of the NT Government’s and the Central Land Council’s roles.)
Why has the handover to Aborigines of other parks, and previously half the landmass of Central Australia,  failed to halt the relentlessly worsening of their condition?
What have they done to enhance, for the benefit of the region’s people and its economy, the amenities of their newly acquired properties? (We have asked the parks service’s media section and will report the reply.)
Why is the taxpayer still paying for the running and the maintenance of what is now their priceless property – for which they receive rent? Is this rent being used to create for themselves and their children a stake in the economy, some kind of enterprise, or is it yet another form of sitdown money?
Why are former cattle stations converted to Aboriginal freehold mostly run down and unproductive, except when non-Aboriginal cattlemen lease them? Ms Macklin will hand over two more of them today.
And perhaps most distressingly, why have these exclusionary and constantly failing policies been allowed to scuttle what could have been a great opportunity for black and white, as the joint owners, working hand in hand, developing the magnificent West Macs into an even greater source of pleasure and commercial opportunity, making the park a symbol of harmony and mutual respect?
Instead Ms Macklin and the Territory government have created yet another “us and them” situation.

It’s a sad day for Central Australia.

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25 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Bob Taylor
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    It has always amazed me how refugees, migrants and other non native English speaking people can come to English speaking countries and within a short period of time have their children performing well at school and speaking good English; while at the same time maintaining their own culture and language. Maybe they all have “Tiger Mums”?

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  2. Russell Guy
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    You make some good points, Paul. I checked out that link and read Alison Andersen’s account of her childhood at Papunya prior to the 1970s “when things started going backwards.”
    It’s interesting to compare her comments in the article by Kieran with her approbation of the missionaries and later in Christian-based schools like Yirara, St Phillips and Kormilda.
    It was around that time that governments began returning Mission control to local Aboriginal Councils and many missionaries left, with some being asked to leave. Wet canteens came in at the same time.
    My book on the Daintree Aboriginal Mission, BAPTISED AMONG CROCODILES 1940-1962 (1999) formed the core of my post-graduate thesis and study of Christian Missions to Aboriginal people.
    Alison’s comments are largely similar to what I discovered was the general case, though, of course, much depended on the personality of the missionaries and there were mistakes, acknowledged or not. There are many books published on the subject which was overall a positive experience and is, to this day, a learning curve for those missionaries who are still in the field, but rewarding for both parties if the right balance is struck.
    The old virtues of tolerance, acceptance, understanding, love for and compassion seem to be as fashionable as they were then.
    As Alison says, “Where to from here?” When you consider how polarised are the alcohol-policies of the two political parties in the forthcoming NT election and the amount of material written about grog-abuse in the Alice Springs News Online alone during the past six months, you’ve got to wonder.

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  3. Paul Parker
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Problem is less Centrelink’s processes – though even a reasonable English ability can find them difficult to follow. It is the ongoing failure of government to ensure these individuals obtained basic education and understanding of their programs, procedures and requirements. Like pointing to one of several signs then asking blind person to read it.
    Many of older generation were pushed to learn and did, with schooling compulsory. Activists then persuaded Government to drop this basic education requirement, to not enforce compulsory attendance at school, and not to concentrate on ensuring all learned basic English. Our result is lost generations.
    Some room for teaching “Traditional” culture and history, as long as we retain the primary task for primary and secondary educators to ensure all achieve literacy, numeracy and oral English, so all have wider choices for their own futures.
    Read: A remote community where all adults work and kids go to school. By KIERAN FINNANE.
    http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/1610.html

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  4. Russell Guy
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Paul Parker @ 24 July. 11: 59PM. Your comment relating to “‘hunter-gatherer’, ‘post-cultivator’ and ‘post-indsutrialized’ modern suburban cultures” leaves it up in the clear air over Alice Springs without qualifying it as to what may be done.
    Your comment regarding “Welfare / Centrelink / Rights” follows-on with a correct understanding that most (Indigenous) recipients do not fully understand the Centrelink agreements that they are required to sign.
    I suggest that this is more to do with their different cultural and educational background, often where English is not a first language, than the present urgent need for Centrelink to reform its programs with a focus on job creation outcomes.
    As for your take on the history of the cattle station and Equal Rights process during the 1970s, I suggest you do a little reading of books written by those NT cattlemen involved, e.g., DRY RIVER (Rachel Percy. 2012. Hesperian Press. W.A.), the latest in a long line of such anecdotal evidence.
    Finally, your comments on alcohol seem to agree that “alcohol supply laws relate to over-consumption”. I rest my case. Still waiting for a reply, Janet.

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  5. Paul Parker
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Similar poor health statistics found around the world, almost everywhere “hunter-gatherer” cultures are adapting to cope with “post-cultivator” and “post-industrialized” modern suburban cultures.
    Welfare / Centrelink / Rights:
    Receipt of welfare / Centrelink required the providers agreement signed by recipients, not that recipients understood fully the agreement.
    The Equal Rights campaign did NOT force people onto welfare. The ongoing Equality of Opportunity campaign forced Commonwealth stop excluding applicants with racial tests, forced Commonwealth cease their racist disqualification of home locations.
    Recipients frequently still fail to understand agreements they sign.
    Alcohol:
    Around world is recognition that alcohol supply laws relate to over-consumption, that over-consumption statistically relates with injuries to people’s health and welfare.
    Particularly so within poorer or lower educational standard communities.
    Raising education standards, and employment opportunities, reduces alcohol related problems.
    Availability of alcohol created problems in the NT, with decades of consumption away from legal and social behavior controls.
    There are no quick fixes, and prohibition failed. Reducing problem drinker culture needs established social lounges where both consumption and behavior are controlled to reduce intoxication. Social desire to join others and consume in such places changes drinker culture slowly.
    Over-consumption remains a problem as youths approach drinking age, without a clear social message that an alcoholic drink is not the problem, becoming intoxicated is the problem.
    This being addressed, certainly with improvements required.
    Leases:
    Few valid “conventional leases” exist for housing within Central Australian Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) communities.
    Soon to expire leases arranged by the Commonwealth (Mal Brough), managed by Territory Housing, only allowing refurbishments: These leases are deemed not sufficient to provide tenants a sub-lease.
    Still “being negotiated” are “valid leases” for tenants of the various ALR(NT) Land Trust with their Commonwealth appointed agent, the Central Land Council.
    Decades on we are yet to see leases, even in draft form.
    Will these leases comply with NT standards for leases and registration of leases, or other?
    Until leases resolved and issued for the communities, land ownership, dwelling ownership, and access, remains firmly controlled by the relevant ALR(NT) Land Trust and their agents the Central Land Council.

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  6. Russell Guy
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Janet @ July 23rd. 9″ 02AM. You confuse Native Title with “Paternalism”. The poor health statistics associated with Indigenous peoples in relation to the rest of the population are directly related to long-term psychological stress incurred with “equality under the law” and the demise of cultural difference, centered around a relationship to the land which was allowed to co-exist on cattle stations before Equal Rights forced them into welfare.
    Entwined with this is recognition by many Indigenous women that alcohol supply laws in the NT are injurious to their health and that of their children.
    You hide behind the law with your Law and Order solution for alcohol-abuse and have failed to answer a question I put to you recently in these posts in relation to the growing evidence that Australia has a problem with alcohol-related violence.
    Southern states are restricting supply access, but you are politically aligned with the NT Country Liberals whose policy is to deny that alcohol supply is a problem. I asked if you’d reviewed your paternalistic position.

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  7. Matt Campbell
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Good work on taking those posts down Erwin, however it might be good to make some kind of statement about moderation for the benefit of those who didn’t see what happened, and what kind of behaviour you would like to see. Well moderated blogs (such as you have demonstrated by removing those comments) are the ones that survive and thrive because they don’t tolerate stupid or overly personal comments and actually encourage us to think and ponder others comments – something that only happens when it is clear that poor comments are not welcome.
    [@ Matt Campbell: Hi Matt, thanks for your comment. We didn’t take down any posts on this subject, we edited some which, in a sentence or two, strayed into personal criticism.]

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  8. Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

    “I am not a fan of segregation and apartheid but we have governments at all levels actively promoting this. I 100% believe that if all Australians were treated equally under law and policy that all Australians would achieve to their best. Whatever level that may be. Paternalism is the most insidious form of racism and division on the planet.”
    Good on Ya Janet !

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  9. Matt Campbell
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Paul, almost all the communities you speak of now have been leased by the government who now control the leases. Territory housing now manages the houses. Therefore all of your concerns about access to houses and responsibility for them need to be addressed to the government, not the Land Council.

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  10. Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Great newspaper, web site and forum Erwin.
    With the ebb and flow of time various peoples of different tribes, have populated different parts of this world by migrating to unoccupied lands, by conquering the first inhabitants or some form of mutual or forced blending of different tribes. What relates to the present situation is the politics of ownership and/or control. This is playing out throughout the modern world in places such as Scotland, Syria, China and countries that made up the USSR. There is no answer to this problem in forseeable future as it is almost impossible to unscramble the racial mix of the people: the borders and lines on the map or on the ground of the different countries of the world.
    “Conquest” A new history of the Modern World by David Day. It is not the answer to the issue being discussed on this forum, but may give readers some interesting background information.

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  11. Janet Brown
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I state that I have strong Christian principles and suddenly I am not allowed an opinion based on facts or principle. I believe in the earth as a gift to mankind without which we would not exist. Over time we have fought for land and then we sorted it out with titles that we paid for or where given. And today we pay for the right to call our home ours. If we fall into hard times the bank then takes it and sells it and we are dispossessed. I am not a fan of giving away something that belongs to the Commonwealth (the people of Australia). National parks are there for the people to enjoy and to cherish. I am not a fan of segregation and apartheid but we have governments at all levels actively promoting this. I 100% believe that if all Australians were treated equally under law and policy that all Australians would achieve to their best. Whatever level that may be. Paternalism is the most insidious form of racism and division on the planet.

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  12. Paul Parker
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Our corporate land owners – the Land Trusts, with their agents the Central Land Council, do NOT require exemptions from being held accountable as landowners, landlords, and agents for the shoddy housing.
    They need be held accountable.
    All landowners and landlords need be accountable to protect their tenants, even shareholder tenants.
    Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) tenants, including “Traditional Owners” need recover their basic human rights as Australians, currently denied them through Commonwealth support for abuse of these exemptions.
    Failure to provide equality of rights, responsibility and opportunity, condemns our communities be labeled “Fail To Thrive”.

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  13. David Chewings
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Call it apartheid if you will Janet but aren’t you being a tad hypocritical in terms of your well known christian principles.

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  14. Janet Brown
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 7:29 am

    So the question is, is the land given to traditional owners? Or to to the land council under a false and deliberate lie! Shame on the Federal government for its deceit. To give control to the Central Land Council in Alice, the same council who refuse to fly the Australian flag. And this government represents Australians. Wake up Australians. The working class is being bled dry by a socialist government intent on one thing, initiating one thing: Apartheid.

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  15. Paul Parker
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    The Central Land Council was appointed by the Commonwealth to act as agent for various Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Land Trusts.
    The Central Land Council and the Haasts Bluff Land Trust claim “Traditional Owners” have no right to live in a house.
    The Central Land Council and the Haasts Bluff Land Trust claim “Traditional Owners” have no right to receive visitors in their homes.
    The Central Land Council and the Haasts Bluff Land Trust claim “Traditional Owners” must obtain a lease granting these rights IF they seek right to have family or friends visit them in houses on Land Trust property.
    Amendments to ALR(NT) apparently allow visitors on roads to drive to front of most houses, however to enter visitors must obtain permits through the Central Land Council, or the tenant must have this right in their lease.
    Racism with apartheid attitudes from Commonwealth and others the only explanation for why our corporate landowners created under Commonwealth ALR(NT) are exempted – so NOT held accountable.
    Consistent refusal by Land Trusts and their agents the Central Land Council to issue standard leases to their tenants in their houses on their land is because providing tenants leases gives them rights.
    These same rights elsewhere regarded as basic human rights requiring judicial approval to qualify.
    The Commonwealth restricts legal challenges through restrictions upon legal assistance, to maintain their racist apartheid and segregation policies upon Australians.

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  16. Daz
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Bev, you make a point, misguided as it is. But these are the laws that govern this country and as funny as it seems, they are for everyone. It seems to be that the only laws that seem make sense to you, are the ones that keep a race of people below yourself, locked up, uneducated and hopeless. Give us a break. Considering we were only flora and fauna half a century ago – I think it is about time. Or should we flip the script and take your homes, language, kids and culture and expect you to live with dignity?

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  17. David L
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Jump the fence at Pine Gap and see how far you get folks. You want to cry about being locked out? Try that.

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  18. Matt Campbell
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 10:49 am

    It’s not about race, it’s not about segregation, it’s about property rights. What has happened is that under Australian law the pre-existing rights of the owners has been acknowledged, meaning that they are now the title holders. I would have thought that some of the people posting negatively here would celebrate that the pre-existing property rights of people are being respected, and the handing of land back from the government to its rightful owners is the correct and proper thing to do. If not in this situation, why not?

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  19. Paul Parker
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Agree this is just another event to celebrate Commonwealth racism and segregation.
    Commonwealth politicians talk loudly of their expectations, whilst refusing address their own Commonwealth legislative restrictions, when is their restrictions which obstruct other basic expectations so as to prevent all achieving equality of opportunity and accountability.
    They deny our simpler expectations, like right to live with or visit families, friends or customers, these still controlled by Aboriginal L and Rights (NT) permits and exemptions, which cancel ability to exercise otherwise deemed basic human rights for Australians.

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  20. Jay
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

    “… what could have been a great opportunity for black and white, as the joint owners, working hand in hand, developing the magnificent West Macs into an even greater source of pleasure and commercial opportunity, making the park a symbol of harmony and mutual respect?”
    http://www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/manage/joint
    http://www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/manage/joint/develop
    Erwin, this is precisely what is occurring under the Joint Management agreement that was signed moments after title was handed back to Traditional Owners yesterday.

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  21. Bev Emmott
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I agree with Janet Brown. Not only are the Aboriginals part of this state but so are the rest of us. This kind of behaviour is the basis of racism in this town. Yes, let’s have a bit of responsible behaviour from the Aboriginals. Just because they are Aboriginal does not mean they have rights over everyone else. They are a real drain on the state and federal finances. In other words it is an excuse for the Aboriginals to do as they want – and eventually it will backfire on them.
    They seem to think they have the right to take everyone’s money and not give anything back – shame on Warren Snowden and Jenny Macklin and anyone else who supports this kind of behaviour – you are a destructive influence.
    Time and time again Aboriginals who are destroying others’ property are let off – those are the ones giving the Aboriginals a bad name. I wonder if an earthquake happened on their land – would they still own it and use their own money to repair any damage? As for the Christians it was God who created the heavens and the earth and not the Aboriginals – so the Aboriginals and their supporters dishonour the creator. What has really happened is that some of the Aboriginals have delusionary behaviour along with anyone else of any race taking this attitude.
    Take note that it is only the minority of Aboriginals doing this and the ones who gain financially – but do you see many of them help even the poor, needy or aged of their own race – let alone any other race. They ignore the spiritual warnings and will bring about their own destruction.

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  22. Borntobe
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Are these parks being handed to the same people who care for their country by leaving their rubbish strewn in town parks, along river beds, and in town camps?

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  23. Steve Brown
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    The handover is yet another win for parasitic bureaucracy and the Loopy Left, a group that fosters and promotes division whenever opportunity arises. The segregation of land ownership in our nation has created an enormous millstone around the nation’s collective neck, an ongoing problem that may well take generations to resolve.
    The so called hand over to the communal group effectively removes the land from individual use binding Aboriginal people to a form of collective dependency, overseen by a parasitic group of bureaucrats who under the mantle of the Land Council, extract what they can in the way of wealth to maintain their bureaucracies whilst jealously guarding against any infringement that might put at risk their milking cow.
    Why don’t you see flourishing Aboriginal business on this vast swath of land? Because it is actively discouraged and under joint ownership, if you do manage to get something going, all your efforts are effectively owned by people sitting on their proverbial watching you do all the work, then putting out their hands for a share.
    It has the same destructive effect on wealth creation that the world witnessed in communist countries.
    This is not a day to celebrate! No Aboriginal person was given a title in his or her hand today! This is another sad day that reflects the truly racist nature of our policy towards Aboriginal People, our refusal to recognise their equal rights as Australian Citizens, to recognise their right to individuality and self-determination! It is a win for paternalism, the segregation of our nation and sheer blind stupidity!

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  24. Janet Brown
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Celebrate what Matt. I am ashamed of a government that supports segregation. I am ashamed of a government that has no respect for the citizens of the country and actively pushes racism. Equality under law equality in policy. That would be something to celebrate. Good article, Erwin.

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  25. Matt
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I beg to differ Erwin, I think it’s a great day for Central Australia and one we should all find a way to celebrate.

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