Convergence on Canberra on 12 Feb 2008

Call to converge on Canberra:
Stand up for Aboriginal rights on the first day of the new parliament.

Tuesday, February 12 2008

Turn back Howard and Brough’s racist legacy!

– Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
– Demand immediate review of the NT intervention
– End welfare quarantines, compulsory land acquisition and
‘mission manager’ powers
– Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal
– Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs

Initiated by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Sydney. Contact:
Shane Phillips 0414077631
Greg Eatock 0432050240

In the final months of government, John Howard introduced a
package of discriminatory, unfair and punative measures
against Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Aimed
at controlling Aboriginal lives and land, the legislation
was a stark violation of basic human rights and dignities.

Federal Labor is promising a new era in Aboriginal affairs.
They are pledging to say sorry to the stolen generation and
to sign the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
People. They have promised to restore both the CDEP
(Community Development and Employment Program) and the
permit system, which will ameliorate some of the worst
effects of the NT intervention.

Unfortunately there are aspects of ALP policy that is still
disturbingly similar to the Liberals. Plainly
discriminatory measures such as mandatory welfare
quarantines, compulsory land acquisition and the presence
of non-Aboriginal “business managers” with extraordinary
powers are being suffered under right now. There has been
no move to allow the operation of the Racial Discrimination
Act. The cry for immediate review of the legislation coming
from across the NT has been ignored.

The Labor Government must comply with accepted
international human rights laws and standards of non
discrimination, equality , natural justice and procedural
fairness. Legislation being implemented in the NT breaches
commitments Australia has made as a signatory to major
human rights treaties and conventions; such as the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination and the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. The Human Rights Commission
must immediately review the legislation to ensure
compliance with these obligations.

The federal election revealed overwhelming opposition to
the intervention among Aboriginal communities. When Labor
MP’s in affected areas emphasised political differences to
the Coalition they consistently received over 80% of the
vote; with 95% in the town of Wadeye.

Despite government claims that the intervention is a
response to the Anderson & Wild “Little Children are
Sacred” report, no new community-based services to ensure
the safety and protection of children have been
established, and there has been a notable duplication of
services – particularly in the area of child health checks.
There is an urgent need for delivery of essential services,
infrastructure and programs genuinely targeted at improving
the safety and well being of children and developed in
consultation with communities. Huge amounts of public money
have been wasted, with $88 million alone going towards
bureaucrats to control Aboriginal welfare.

Moving Forward

A vibrant, mass convergence Canberra on the first day of
parliament will be an important step in challenging the
lingering legacy of Howard’s racism. We can strongly push
for an immediate end to what Aboriginal communities have
themselves described as an invasion. We can send a strong
signal to Kevin Rudd and his new government to put
Aboriginal rights at the centre of their agenda; to
massively increase the resources available to communities
across Australia and to respect Aboriginal control of
Aboriginal affairs.

Endorsements from Aboriginal activists include:
Olga Havnen (Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the NT)
Barbara Shaw (Tangentyere council, Alice Springs)
Lez Malezer (Chairman, Global Indigenous People’s Caucus UN,
Foundation Aboriginal Islander Rights Association)
Jackie Katona (CEO of Lumbu Indigenous Community Foundation,
Djok clan)
Michael Mansell (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre)
Sam Watson (Brisbane)
Mitch (Eastern Arrernte/Luritja activist from Alice Springs)
Robbie Thorpe (Melbourne)
Phil Falk (Senior Lecturer School of Law, Griffith Uni,
Wiradjuri nation)
Linda Murphy (Lecturer, School of Arts, Griffith Uni)
Sandra Phillips (QUT)
Nicole Watson (Jumbunna, Sydney)
Heidi Norman (UTS)
Victor Hardt (Oodgeroo, QUT)
Shane Phillips (Redfern)
Peta Ridgeway (Newcastle)
Arthur Ridgeway (Newcastle)
Greg Eatock (Coordinator Deaths in Custody Campaign, Sydney)
Pat Eatock (Secretary, First Aboriginal Tent Embassy)

Supportive Organisations include:
Women for Wik
Indigenous Social Justice Association
Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Sydney)
Intervention Reform Coalition (Darwin)
Intervention Rollback Working Group (Alice Springs)
Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Canberra)

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)

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