Jet-setting, funding-cutting Tony
By Vanessa Kairies
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.
The biggest scam against Aboriginal Australia
The con in constitutional reform
The great land grab of 2015 continues
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.
This law needs to be stopped. The government, however, is standing firm.
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).
An eleven year old suicides, nine months later his mother takes her life – this nation’s worst racism
Aboriginal woman who died in WA jail was there for an unpaid fine
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).
Mining in WA and the relocation of 150 communities
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Mr Abbott held a press conference at the school and attributed the high attendance rate partly to the Government’s new school attendance officers.
But the head of the school’s P&C, Richard McLean, said the remote attendance officers were not a key reason so many kids were coming to class.
He said the statistics were just as positive before the attendance officers started work.
“The statistics have clearly shown that before the … program was rolled out they were quite high,” he said.
Mr McLean said there were a number of factors behind the strong figures.
“I believe the credit needs to go to where it is deserved,” he said. “It’s things like working collaboratively with parents, understanding the community, stronger relationships with families and students, great teachers – not just wanting to come up here for the points or the lifestyle – and really good leadership along valuing our identity.
“We also set high expectations for our students and with the support from parents and teachers we are seeing them succeed. This, in turn, empowers the students and they are proud to come to school because of their success.”
‘Maybe he hasn’t done his homework’
At the same media event the Prime Minister spoke about the teaching methods he had witnessed at the school.
“Certainly we did see a form of explicit and direct instruction in these classrooms today and as someone who has been in Indigenous classrooms at different times over quite a few years now, they were the best classrooms I’ve ever seen,” Mr Abbott said.
“And most of those classrooms had a very high percentage of people attending.”
Mr Mclean objected to Mr Abbott’s statement.
“That’s not correct at all. There is no direct instruction taught in this school, it’s explicit teaching and explicit teaching only,” he said.”
Great article. Are the communities getting any support from Greens or Labor?
It is unlikely that Abbott will ever get anything right!
Toxic beef and fish have turned up in the Northern Territory. (I wonder if Tony ate any beef or fish during his visit?)… We can but hope!
I think the suicide rate would be increasing for all of us Australia wide not just the first peoples.https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2817-right-wing-governments-increase-suicide-rates/
A reminder of Abbots thoughts from a not so many years back…
STOP MOURNING,GET BACK TO WORK
Adelaide Advertiser: 06jul06
ABORIGINES in the state’s remote north-west have been told by Health Minister Tony Abbott to stop spending three months in mourning for relatives so they can develop a culture of work.
Visiting the Pitjantjatjara lands, Mr Abbott was repeatedly told of Aborigines spending three months in “sorry camps” on the outskirts of communities and not turning up for community employment schemes.
“If you’re going to develop a working culture, you can’t have a three-month ceremony season and you can’t take six weeks off because your cousin has died,” Mr Abbott told an Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara administration meeting yesterday.
He told the meeting this could not continue “if you want indigenous people to have a fair dinkum chance of cutting the mustard out there” and becoming lawyers, doctors or teachers.
Some communities visited by Mr Abbott and Health Parliamentary Secretary Christopher Pyne had residents living in tents or sleeping rough near their outskirts, with Aboriginal people and community workers saying those people did not work because of the mourning ritual.
They said these ceremonies were quite frequent because of the Pitjantjatjara lands’ high mortality rate.
Told by an anthropologist that traditional mourning rites were complex and deeply rooted in history, Mr Abbott said a death before European settlement would not have prevented Aboriginal people hunting and getting water.
“I’m not an authority but I wouldn’t imagine that long before white man came (a death) would have stopped hunting, going out, that kind of thing,” he said.
Mr Abbott said “there has to be some way of adapting one’s mourning” to better adopt a working culture.
APY principal legal officer Ruth Morley told the meeting that Mr Abbott’s comments were confronting but important. “I don’t think that’s unfair,” she said.
“It’s tough to say and a difficult thing for people to hear but there’s got to be a discussion,” she said.
APY officials told Mr Abbott that significant change required Aboriginal people to lead a discussion with state and federal authorities about how to improve problems on the lands. However, the Health Minister questioned the need for a “lengthy consultative process”, saying to an outsider there seemed to be “endless process and not much outcome”.
He said administration of the communities seemed to have switched from a “situation where white fella tells black fella what will happen” to the other way around.
Mr Abbott said he did not want to be “proscriptive or legislative” but suggested young Aboriginal people could help build houses on the lands, acting as apprentices to learn skills and develop an interest in subsequent employment.
Authorities told Mr Abbott there were 100 more houses needed on the lands to avoid problems with overcrowding, which results in as many as 18 people living in a single three-bedroom house
One wonders what Abbott gave to the islanders re the ‘opening of the tomb’ ceremonies.
Much celebrating then followed by fights and the like. Very serious business. Outsiders should stay well clear.
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