Dear friends, 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.
Tell your senator to delay the vote until they have done their due diligence as lawmakers, and sufficient time has been made for the traditional owners to be properly consulted.
The Northern Territory is flourishing with indigenous culture and living languages. Yet, all Australians know there are also many deeply confronting problems - and all parties agree we must urgently find new ways forward in partnership.
Land is the best asset that Aboriginal people have for economic development. Not one Australian economist has argued that taking land or leadership away will deliver positive economic results - even the conservative Minerals Council of Australia thinks the Government is on the wrong track with its attack on Land Councils.
The economic case has not been made. The social consequences are untested. And traditional owners have been excluded from this decision hat will deeply affect them for generations. Please help stop this before it's too late.
Thank you for taking urgent action, The GetUp team.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Legislation you need to hear about
This is an email I got today from the Uniting Church WA Synod Social Justice Unit.
It's times like these I wish I had a popular blog that lots of people read.