Australia remains an 'undeclared war zone' and has been 'one big hell of a crime scene' since the white invasion and needs a treaty between the colonisers and the Aborigines, a recent Aboriginal summit in Melbourne heard. Robbie Thorpe, committed activist on issues relating to Australian history, Indigenous sovereignty, lack of treaty, land-rights justice, genocide and national denial made the allegation.
"People have known that but don't want to recognise it. They don't want to recognise our humanity...they can't afford to...it'd bankrupt them totally and utterly."
Robbie said any treaty would need to be internationally scrutinised to create a proper legal foundation of law on which to build a future. He said Aboriginal groups could start by building treaties and reconciling with each other.
Robbie (http://treatyrepublic.net/node/64) is from the Krautungalung people of the Gunnai Nation, the traditional owners of Lake Tyers in Victoria.
He has been active in initiating indigenous solutions and, in particular, has been a strong advocate for 'Pay the Rent', an indigenous initiative which would provide an independent economic resource for Aboriginal peoples.
Robbie has initiated a number of legal actions, where he has argued that crimes of genocide have been committed against Aboriginal peoples throughout the history of the colonisation of Australia.
Here is a recording of one of his speeches to the summit, the third after Canberra and Sydney, of the New Way movement.
Take a quarter hour out-time for some of the most brilliant oratory you’ll ever hear on the Aboriginal condition created by white crime.
Summits praised, help promised to Darwin's Larakia
Gary Foley and Michael Anderson (see below) agreed on the need for local action on the ground to convince Aboriginal communities that international action would also achieve results.
Both named examples of successful local actions.
Gary lauded the New Way summits as an effective means for the mobs to share experiences.
Robert Mills, speaking for the Larakia mob in Darwin, appealed for help from the movement and was promised it.
Listen at http://www.4shared.com/audio/piKJ3w9O/Foley_summit_Michael_ILC_Larak.html. It runs for about 19 minutes.
Aboriginal schooling denied
In a discussion of the need for Aboriginal education, Robert Mills of the Larakia in Darwin, reported that if he didn’t send his children to government schools, he would have to fear being evicted from government housing, having welfare income quarantined and having the welfare take his children away from him.
“I would face homelessness, poverty and starvation.” More and more bush around Darwin was being bulldozed, destroying sources of bushtucker.
Sharon responded that the government had been shamed into restoring the racial discrimination act but the measures were still active.
At present, the largest number ever of Aboriginal children were being taken away from their families. “The government have revved up the intervention and have created a massive class struggle impacting worst on Aboriginal people.”
She noted that Aborigines were being forced to work for four dollars an hour when the basic wage was 15 dollars an hour. “Aborigines are being exploited.”
Returning to the subject of Aboriginal education, Robert said in more than 40 years not one Aboriginal school had been set up. Only pittances had been allocated to “intermittent little language programmes, not core systems.
“Yet millions have been poured into Catholic colleges our kids go, where they are indoctrinated to ways foreign to us.”
Sharon noted that while Aborigines make up two percent of the population, they make up 40% of the prison population because the police and judiciary systems were stacked against them.
This discussion is at http://www.4shared.com/audio/M9zEWhk3/Mills_Sharon.html
"Small education positives"
Because not enough Aboriginal knowledge is going into the education system, people had to take their own initiatives, said Janina Woods, who teaches Aboriginal culture to children.
“We need to sit at the knees of our Elders and learn,” she said. With great pride she referred to her “very fair” daughter passing on the culture to kindergarten kids in NSW.
“We are moving forward really slowly, but it is nice to sometimes share the little positive things that are happening.”
“Australia a franchise like a McDonald’s”
Michael Anderson maintains that Australia is merely a franchise of the English crown and told the summit he’s challenging Australia’s jurisdiction on behalf of his 3,000 Euahlayi, whose lands straddle southwest Queensland and northwest NSW.
“If we’re going to sue, we’re wasting our time trying to challenge the oppressor here, the oppressor state passing these laws. The person who has fiduciary obligations to us is the crown of England.”
Michael cites what are called the “letters patent” which set up Australian rule and which, he argues, prove that this country is still subject to the supreme authority of the crown of England.
Australia does not have the legal standing of an independent state, he suggests, but is still “a franchise state of England – like setting up McDonald’s down the road”.
“If we become a republic they have to rewrite a constitution and develop a whole fiduciary and political disassociation with England.
“It means a whole new development that has to occur. The public of Australia have to agree to it.
“And we stand right in the middle and we can begin to assert ourselves in that position.
“So there’s a lot of complications for them to become a republic without dealing with us.”
Michael said the broader picture is that one mob, one movement, can make a change for a lot.
Hear these arguments (about 13½ minutes) at http://www.4shared.com/audio/q7SNotVU/Ghillar_legal_position_Euahlay.html .
Gary Foley: “Forget the stupid idea of putting Aborigines into parliament”
Gary Foley, activist, academic, writer and actor, blasted trade unions and political parties as useless to blackfellas.
“Forget this stupid idea of putting Aboriginal people into parliaments,” he ranted, bagging a number of Aboriginal politicians, including his sister, a NSW minister.
“There are a lot of blackfellas out there screaming out to be heard,” he said, and the summits were an opportunity: “There has been an opportunity for blackfellas from different parts of the country to maybe share a few ideas and I think that’s the real ultimate value that comes out of this, because people are going to come away from this like I came away from the Canberra one and they are going to be fired up and with a bit of go in them again because that’s what’s really missing.”
He closed by urging the non-Aborigines in the room to “go out and find yourself a racist” among their closest friends and family “at home around the dinner table” and challenge their ideas.
Gary, born 1950, is best known for his role in establishing the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972 and for establishing an Aboriginal legal service in Redfern in the 1970s. He also co-wrote and acted in the first indigenous Australian stage production, "Basically Black".
His speech is at http://www.4shared.com/audio/B67RzFrX/Foley_go_find_a_racist.html and runs for 13½ minutes. Also see him on YouTube at http://treatyrepublic.net/, scroll down.
Michael Anderson: Unions helped start Black Power in Sydney
Responding to Gary Foley’s criticism that trade unions are useless to blackfellas, Michael Anderson, convenor of the New Way movement, cited positive examples of trade union support.
He said the Black Power movement of the 1970s in fact got its start as a result of union action against a Sydney hotel that refused service to Aborigines. Union boycotts ultimately closed the hotel down.
Michael also recalled union help in a cotton worker strike over pittance pay he led in northwest NSW.
“Trade unions have been our friends for a long, long time.”
Michael’s remarks about this are at http://www.4shared.com/audio/_v75C8dc/Ghillar_on_unions.html. The take runs for 6 minutes 10 seconds.
Union leader: Aboriginal social organisation key to all our futures
Trade unions must do more to ensure proper implementation of the Mabo High Court decision, said Len Cooper, president of the communications division of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU).
Mabo seems to leave Aboriginal sovereignty up in the air, Len said. Sovereignty would have to be based on Aboriginal advice.
Noting that the Howard government had removed the right to strike on social issues, he said the present government still holds to that ban as well.
“Fundamental to the success of the Aboriginal movement as well as the union movement and the people’s movement generally is obviously unity within the Aboriginal community around an effective programme.
“Based on my experience in the labour movement, disunity leaves you ineffective and unrepresented. The other aspect to unity that’s important for us to go forward is the unity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians to build a movement that will force the change we want.”
Len concluded: “Aboriginal community and social organisation actually holds the key to the future for the peoples of the globe.”
Listen to him for about six minutes at http://www.4shared.com/audio/oGo5KVd0/Unionist_Len_Aborigines_save_w.html.
Maritime unionist: We have to work together for viable jobs and communities
Mining and other resource companies are thieving from Aboriginal land and giving nothing back, said Kevin Bracken, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Maritime Union Australia (MUA).
“We need to work together to create viable jobs. They aren’t going to be done by handouts, they aren’t going to be done by governments, they’ll be done by us working together.”
Kevin said the MUA had always been proud of their involvement and work alongside indigenous peoples and shared many struggles with them. At the moment they were raising money for Northern Territory school learning projects.
The MUA and other unions, in a compact with the Kimberley Land Council, are going straight to the companies looking for Aboriginal jobs and training programmes in the resources boom. The approach would be rolled out in other areas, for example the NT.
“There should be local jobs. This is indigenous land, most of these minerals come off indigenous land. There should be involvement all the way through, not just royalties and stuff like that, but actual jobs – work, housing, all the stuff that goes with it.
“We deal with companies and we see our role as getting these companies to come on board. They have a social responsibility.
“They’re thieving this stuff out of Aboriginal land and giving nothing back.”
You can hear Kevin at http://www.4shared.com/audio/NDHBxq8a/Kevin_Bracken_MUA.html . It runs for about 8 minutes.
Geoff Clark: Let's get motivated
The former head of ATSIC, Geoff Clark, called it the “love child” of the Labor Party which it killed when it perceived a treaty as a threat. He recalled that ATSIC put aside a million dollars a year for work on the treaty.
Aborigines need resources, he said, a republic would be a fresh start. An international survey of indigenous people’s health had found the health of Victorian Aborigines the worst worldwide.
He accused mining companies of riding roughshod over everyone, regardless of race. Miners could do what they want in Victoria without having to fear an Aboriginal veto.
Clark saw opportunities in the coming elections and lauded Melbourne as “the change-city”. He called on Aborigines to unite under the Southern Cross “which is an Aboriginal Creation story” now sullied by the Union Jack in the flag.
Here’s his speech, which runs for 13 ½ minutes: http://www.4shared.com/audio/jNRUZiYh/Clarke_lets_get_motivated.html
"All Aborigines need to fight the Intervention"
The convenor of the Melbourne conference, Sharon Firebrace, who has a long history of activism in Aboriginal politics, said contracts and partnerships with government are silencing Aboriginal organisations.
She stressed the need for action by Aborigines everywhere against the Northern Territory intervention. Silence by leadership is causing interest by ordinary people to drop off.
Sharon said the present government’s policies on Aboriginal matters were the same as those of the previous Howard government – a sentiment often expressed through the four days.
She urged cooperation with the trade unions who had supported Aboriginal people for 80 years.
The Ghillard government was continuing to attack refugees, just as Howard had.
Gary Foley decried the lack of young people at the summit and said more use should be made of the kinds of modern communication technologies young people use to attract them.
Sharon alluded to a powerful family group in Melbourne leaning on people not to attend.
Nigerian High Commissioner: “World should fight it like it did apartheid”
“I have said it to so many Aboriginal leaders: the way the world rose up against apartheid in South Africa, it should also rise up against the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia.”
The words of Professor Olu Agbi, the High Commissioner (ambassador) of Nigeria in Canberra, who spent many hours at the summit, some of them in a splendid Nigerian gown.
“That is my own personal position and I want to say that even when I leave as the Nigerian High Commissioner here, I want to devote part of my life to the study of Aboriginal affairs and to promoting Aboriginal affairs not only within the context of Africa, but also in the wider world.
“My concern is, for a very, very long time many people outside Australia do not know much about Aboriginal affairs, and this is the truth.
“It is important that Aboriginal leaders must develop a system of education and a system of instruction that will allow the world to know more about what is going on within Australia.”
Hear this at http://www.4shared.com/audio/Q-y41Gqi/Nigerian_total.html. It takes about 20 minutes.
You may use the audio any way you wish. It would be nice but not imperative to ackknowledge film-maker Ellie Gilbert as the recordist.