Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stop Howard's attack on Aboriginal land rights

I received this very urgent appeal for action from GetUp! about the Howard government's latest attack on Aboriginal rights – and attack on Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory:

Something dangerous is about to happen to the very heartland of Aboriginal Australia - and neither the traditional owners, nor you, have been warned.

Under the guise of promoting economic development for indigenous Australians, the Federal Government wants to ram through new legislation this Tuesday that actually jeopardises future generations of Aboriginal livelihoods. It's quite possibly the most important law you've never heard of.

The law will amend the iconic Land Rights Act, stripping away power from one of the only true representative bodies, the Land Councils, while pressuring Aboriginal communities to hand over control of their lands for 99 years. With profound disrespect, many of those who this new law affects most have not even been told.

Only your senators can put the brakes on this legislation, to allow time for real debate and understanding. Tell them now these seismic policy changes are too important to rush through.

While the government claims the 99-year leases are voluntary, traditional owners are being cajoled into signing away their rights to their land just to secure basic services that we all deserve, like houses and schools.

The original Land Rights Act was an iconic piece of bipartisan legislation. This is a rush job - scarcely understood and widely contested. A scant one-day Parliamentary inquiry should not be permitted to rubber stamp a policy that will leave four generations without land or leadership. Even Government senators expressed 'alarm and concern' at this totally inadequate debate.

Got to the GetUp! campaign website to sign the petition, and pass on the word to others:

The campaign hasn't made much headway in the news other than this report on ABC News Online.

However, there is this excellent opinion piece by three Aboriginal traditional owners from Arnhem land in NT in today's The Age.

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