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National Aboriginal Alliance: New independent political voice

Following a meeting in Alice Springs on September 12-14, attended by some 100 Aboriginal people from across Australia, a new, independent political body for Aboriginal Australians is being established, the National Aboriginal Alliance. »

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Red Wombat | September 24, 2007

NATIONAL ABORIGINAL BODY CALLS FOR 6 MONTH COOLING OFF PERIOD FOR 99 YEAR LEASES

Speaking for the recently conceived National Aboriginal Alliance, member Michael Mansell called for a “6 months cooling off period before Aboriginal communities are firmly and legally committed to 99 years leases being sold through Aboriginal affarirs Minister Mal Brough”.

Mr Mansell said, “Canberra is placing enormous pressure on Aboriginal communities to sign land over on 99 year leases. Canberra has an agenda it is not fully disclosing to Aboriginal communities. The implications are enormous and not well understood by community leaders. Galurrwuy Yunipingu’s capitulation is a classic example.

Having had their land titles recognised for less than 30 of the past 229 years, Galurrwuy Yunipingu’s people will effectively lose the land once again until 3006. That is one third of the existence time of white Australia, and with the continued rapid commercial and social change likely to take place over the next 100 years, it is certain the Aboriginal people affected by these leases will not realise the consequences.

Legal title holders of lands burdened by a lease lose their normal ownership rights, which remain theoretical and subject to the terms of that lease. Exchanging security of tenure for money will destabilise whole communities by making them more suscebtible to “mobility” policies coming out of Canberra.

In the short term, communities will be cashed up with infrastructure funding but will see their physical connection with a place eroded. As commercial development, tourism and greater European occupation replaces community control, the demands of the city life will overide any cultural connection.

If Mr Yunipingu has a crystal ball to predict precisely how his people and culture will prosper at the end of 99 years, he should tell us all.

On a larger scale, dismantling Aboriginal communities will have unforeseen social effects. One certainty is that by the time the lease has expired European interests will be so firmly entrenched that Aborigines will not be able to claim the occupation of the lands back.

As we have seen in Alice Springs, where use of the Todd River by Aborigines has existed for thousands of years, the needs of tourists and Europeans has gradually driven Aborigines from their traditional places. In the absence of some very clever social and town planning, the Gove Peninsular will go the same way. Already mines, a refinery, a yacht club and a town of miners has made massive social incursions into the area.

It is for these reasons Canberra must agree to a cooling off period so that communities are able to get more information before committing to so long a period of loss of land. It is inevitable.”

Michael Mansell
Spokesman
National Aboriginal Alliance
182 Charles St, Launceston, TAS 7250
contact 0429310116
20th September 2007

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