Australian law disempowering Aborigines may face High Court challenge

Stop Racism

A former chief justice of the Family Court of Australia, Alastair Nicholson, says transcripts of Federal Government consultations in Indigenous communities could be used to wage a High Court legal battle. The group Concerned Australians has released transcripts recorded in the Northern Territory as part of consultations about the Stronger Futures legislation, which will replace laws governing the Emergency Intervention in the Territory in August. Mr Nicholson is a member of the group. He says the transcripts could prove the Government breached the Racial Discrimination Act because consultations were not done properly. Mr Nicholson says the consultations reveal people do not like the new local government super shires model, want the Intervention scrapped and bilingual education brought back to Territory schools.


He says the transcripts show the Government ignored these complaints and did not include them in their reporting.

"This is the only evidence of the consultations," he said.

"If you take this as the only hard evidence of them, there is a lot missing from them.

"Particularly, the strong note of criticism of most of the Government's proposals does not appear in their report."

The Northern Territory Opposition says Indigenous people want to see detailed minutes of the consultation meetings they attended on the Stronger Futures legislation.

The Territory Opposition's Alison Anderson says people in her electorate feel Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin's department may have misrepresented their views.

"They have even asked me to write a letter to Macklin, to Minister Macklin, asking for the minutes of those meetings to be returned for clarification to their communities," she said.

"They were not convinced by the consultation that they would be interpreting the true voice of those people to the Federal Minister."

(Transcripts from the ten recorded consultations and an order form for “NT Consultation Report 2011: By Quotations” are available at

A second round intervention in the Northern Territory would racially discriminate against Aboriginal people and fail any potential High Court challenge, a former chief justice says.

As the federal government prepares for a debate on its Stronger Futures legislation in the House of Representatives in Canberra on Thursday, a rights group has warned that its approach is flawed.

If passed, the legislation will extend measures brought in under the former Howard coalition government's NT intervention policy that targeted Aboriginal communities.

The Labor government plans to continue alcohol restrictions and introduce 18-month jail terms for Aboriginal people caught carrying more than 1.35 litres of alcohol and six-month sentences for possessing booze in certain areas.

There will also be a territory-wide extension of a controversial pilot scheme that links school truancy with cuts to parents welfare payments.

A departmental evaluation released in February found the trial in 14 NT schools and 30 Queensland schools did not improve school attendance.

Former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson, from the group Concerned Australians, believes the proposed measures won't comply with the Racial Discrimination Act.

He predicts they will fail if challenged in the High Court because the government's consultations have failed to seek proper informed consent from Aboriginal communities.

"If a High Court challenge was made there's a fair chance it would get up," he told AAP.

"It's a very expensive and lengthy process and would no doubt require people to work on a pro bono basis and I think the government is relying on the fact that it's complicated to do."

Mr Nicholson also said there was a real danger more people could be incarcerated if the laws passed and that judges would not be allowed to take into account the background and culture of Aboriginal people during sentencing.

Indigenous people already make up a quarter of the Australian prison population.

In Melbourne on Wednesday, Mr Nicholson launched a Concerned Australians' NT Consultations 2011 Report, which contains transcripts of the views of indigenous people gathered during community consultations last year.

Federal indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin and her department have not released any transcripts from the 73 consultations.

But Mr Nicholson said the government's claim there was strong support from Aboriginal communities for its plans appeared "doubtful".

Transcripts seen by AAP show many Aboriginal people from different regions want to see a return of community control.

There were repeated calls to end discrimination against small homeland communities missing out on money for houses in favour of bigger towns, and demands for bilingual education to be reintroduced to NT schools.

"When you are told that you're not allowed to learn in your own [language]... you feel shame," an Aboriginal woman told the Kintore consultation.

Related reporting:

ABC Lateline: Senior judges slam Closing the Gap plan
Former Victorian Supreme and Appeals court judge, Frank Vincent, has told ABC1's Lateline that Stronger Futures contains "an element of racism"."


ABC Lateline: Intervention legislation 'racist and discriminatory'
ALASTAIR NICHOLSON: They're top-down laws that impose effectively government quite white solutions on Aboriginal communities without their involvement or approval. ...
FRANK VINCENT: At best it [the consultations] appears to have been superficial, and certainly not extended beyond the point of gaining broad approval for what might be described as motherhood statements."


Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
CAAMA Radio News 17-02-2012
"Two of the country’s most distinguished legal minds labeled the legislation racist and discriminatory."


Uniting Church of Australia: Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Are you really listening?
[scroll down page]
15 Feb 12: "The book report is based on recordings made under the auspices of 'concerned Australians' at 10 consultations from different parts of the Northern Territory."


newsTracker: Stronger Futures still discriminatory: Nicholson
"A second round intervention in the Northern Territory would racially discriminate against Aboriginal people and fail any potential High Court challenge, a former chief justice says. As the federal government prepares for a debate on its Stronger Futures legislation in the House of Representatives in Canberra on Thursday, a rights group has warned that its approach is flawed."


Greens: NT Intervention could widen the Gap
16 Feb 12: ""Unfortunately the Government’s rhetoric about their commitment to Closing the Gap is undermined by their actions. They are continuing with the Stronger Futures legislation, which will see the NT Intervention continue for up to 10 years. The measures being forced on the Northern Territory are not working and they cannot be justified through the inadequate consultation process." "The NT Intervention has the potential to widen the gap, not reduce it." [said Senator Siewert]"


National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples:
New NT Legislation must comply with Human Rights Obligations
8 Feb 12: "The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) says the bills to continue the Intervention in the Northern Territory must be withdrawn and reintroduced so they will be subject to the same human rights scrutiny as other bills.


National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples:
Senate Committee Backs Concerns Over Northern Territory Bills


Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
Barb Shaw speaks on Stronger Futures Legislation
9 Feb 12: "Central Australian Aboriginal leader and human rights campaigner Barbara Shaw speaks to Nerida Currey on Strong Voices… to share her views on the Government’s proposed Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bills…"


Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
CAAMA Radio News 10-02-2012
10 Feb 12: "Plans are underway for a protest in Canberra later this month against the Stronger Futures legislation for the Northern Territory."


Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
CAAMA Radio News 09-02-2012
The Australian Lawyers Alliance says the legislation undermines legal rights across a range of areas of law that could amount to the maintenance of a separate standard of rights and interests, which would be in violation of international law.


newsTracker: NT intervention hearings hit the road
17 Feb 12: "The Senate committee scrutinising the government’s Stronger Futures legislation will hold hearings in Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Alice Springs, Maningrida and Darwin. Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, a former film star who is now Barkly Shire Mayor, will address senators in Alice Springs on Tuesday. ... She said NT Aboriginal communities absolutely reject the legislation which was "punitive" and not in the best interests of people it affects directly."


National Indigenous Times: Withdraw Intervention Bill, demands Congress
16 Feb 12: "The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples has demanded the Federal Government withdraw the Bills it has put before Federal Parliament to extend the Northern Territory Intervention. The Congress told the Federal Government the Bills should only be considered before the Federal Parliament once they were subject to the same human rights scrutiny as other... "


National Indigenous Times: Reward students rather than punish them: Sarra
16 Feb 12: "Parents and their student children should be given rewards for school attendance rather than the "ineffective and dishonourable" threat of cutting off welfare payments, the highly respected Indigenous educator, Dr Chris Sarra has said. The former Queenslander of the Year has podcast a raft of strategies through Twitter on how to boost Indigenous student attendance, including rewarding parents with flowers or... "


newsTracker: A Stronger Future behind bars
13 Feb 12: "The federal government’s plans to toughen alcohol bans in the Northern Territory could lead to higher Indigenous incarceration rates, writes AMY MCQUIRE. Possession of one can of beer in a “prescribed” area could consign Aboriginal people to up to six months in prison under the Gillard government’s new Stronger Futures legislation."


Australian Human Rights Commission:
Stronger futures requires stronger consultation
13 Feb 12: "The Commission has told the Government that immediate steps should be taken to ensure that it has the capacity to engage properly with Aboriginal communities and in order to implement the Stronger Futures Bills in accordance with human rights standards. The Commission’s submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into the Bills has identified a range of human rights concerns with the bills and called for a government wide cultural competency audit to ensure that they have the ability to implement the measures appropriately."


newsTracker: Stronger Futures won’t protect children:SNAICC
10 Feb 12: "A peak Aboriginal children rights body has called on a parliamentary committee to reject the Stronger Futures legislation, stating the NT intervention has failed to protect Aboriginal children. ... The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is the peak body representing Aboriginal children and families. It has made a submission to the Stronger Futures inquiry, strongly urging it against the package of legislation."


Koori Mail: Stronger Futures bills under fire
[scroll down page]
9 Feb 12: "THE Federal Government's Stronger Futures legislation has come under renewed fire. The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples says the bills to continue the Northern Territory Intervention must be withdrawn and reintroduced so they'll be subject to the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act, passed after the NT legislation was tabled."


Lawyers Weekly: Bill akin to intervention
8 Feb 12: "The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has slammed the Federal Government’s proposed Stronger Futures legislation, saying it will erode Indigenous advancement and increase the Indigenous jail population. The ALA presented a 54-page submission to a Parliamentary Inquiry into the legislation, focusing on numerous aspects of the legislation that impose prison terms for minor crimes. ALA national president Greg Barns said many of the measures criminalising conduct in the proposed legislation are "regressive" and "smack of paternalism"."


WGAR News: More on the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill
[scroll down page]


'concerned Australians': new harsh and punitive policies are planned
Additional background reading and a little research
In a package of 3 very complex bills further new harsh and punitive policies are planned, most of which will specifically and mostly target Aboriginal people - they are racially discriminatory. Additionally, other proposed polices including SEAM do not have any evidence base of success.

NT Aboriginal Elders and community leaders reject the proposed ‘so-called’ stronger futures legislation. See submission no.40 NT Elders & Community Representatives - listen to video (first 1- 2 minutes stop and start slightly)at And, see written submission no. (29) of Elders and Community of Ramingining and others. There have been over 360 submissions received, the vast majority are opposed to the legislation, many asking for its withdrawal, others calling for much needed change in Government mindset and policy directions.

Additionally there are serious issues around land. Jeff McMullin described this as an attack on land rights - the worst since the 1970s. On land and many concerns of the legislation it is worth looking at the ‘cA’ submission no. 87. Read the whole submission to get a glimpse of ‘cA’ concerns.

The ten consultation transcriptions and the book report can be found on our web site. We also have very good reports, evaluation and opinion pieces there.

Georgina Gartland, 'concerned Australians', 03 9874 5795 0421 2567351



Scrap NT intervention laws: Malcolm Fraser

AAP in The Sydney Morning Herald

Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser has attacked the federal government's consultation process with Aboriginal communities over plans to extend the NT intervention, saying Australia is "light-years" behind on indigenous policy.
Mr Fraser also called on the Labor government to scrap the proposed next phase of the intervention, which will last 10 years, arguing it ignores the wishes of Aboriginal people.


"Our cultures are hanging by a thin thread"

Dear Friends & Family,

The situation here in Australia is worsening for indigenous peoples-our cultures are hanging by a thin thread. We've just found out that a 10-year 2nd phase of a culturally devastating legislation will be put to vote in Parliament next week- despite intense community and civil opposition. It seems the government is trying to rush this through the same way it imposed the 1st Intervention in 2007, before the nation and the world knows & understands what this government is doing to it's First Peoples,

If the Australian government has its way and this proposed legislation passes, it will cut us off completely from what remains of our cultures and the little hope we have left for our survival. Our only hope to stop this racist legislation is if awareness and international support is raised.

Even Amnesty International and the United Nations have not been enough to counter the persistent unwillingness of the government to afford us basic human rights as indigenous peoples. Please add your voice to ours. Each time the petition is signed a personal email is sent to the Ministers. We have very little time to act.

Thank you for your support.

With love,
Uncle Bob & Barbara


NT intervention is about mining

this second stage of the intervention in the nt is not about improving the life of the aboriginal communities and those families who reside there. this is not about the original lie of stopping child abuse or even closing the gap. youth suicides have skyrocketed, arrest and incarceration of aborigines, mainly for alcohol abuse, has also increased dramatically. school attendance is, in fact, dropping. health remains a high priority.

the only winners in the first intervention are woolworths and coles as only they have been authorised to accept the welfare card. both these corporations already control 83% of the australian supermarket scene. other winners are the government-appointed 'mission managers', public servants installed in new houses and on a high salary. i keep asking macklin what their role is but to date, no answer has been supplied.

the first intervention was based on the theft of aboriginal land that is/was controlled by the traditional owners. as we know, the nt sits between the two mining boom states of qld and wa. the nt and federal governments have watched as both states grew fat on mining royalties and both wanted to change the fact that the nt aborigines owned some 40-odd percent of the nt lands. further it was proved that the nt was also resource rich with uranium and other minerals but too much of the resources were on lands that the traditional owners wanted no mining to occur.

the howard government plotted and schemed up the answer and it is my belief that such theft also had the full blessing of the labor party. that was evidenced when they came to power in 2007. most people do not know that howard had instructed the australian crime commission some 12 months before the intervention to investigate crimes including drugs, money laundering and organised paedophile rings in aboriginal communities in the nt. whilst the outcome of the first two investigations are not known it was proven that no paedophile rings existed, organised or otherwise. what was found was underage promised brides and sex between teens. the underage brides was a cultural response whilst the teen sex was a biological response found throughout australia.

but i digress as usual.

communities were forced into accepting the krudd/gillard edict to sign their lands and houses over to commonwealth control. the second intervention is merely to reinforce the federal government control of those lands and allow mining to occur for the alleged benefit of the owners of the lands. this is cynicism at its very best.

it is my understanding that the required legislation passed the lower house on monday and is now awaiting ratification by the senate even though the senate enquiry continues to hear submissions. just shows julia's quoted impatience to get on with things!

please pass around your networks. mention is made of accessing a petition but i cannot locate it.


ray jackson
indigenous social justice association
(m) 0450 651 063
(p) 02 9318 0947
address 1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017

we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.

sovereignty treaty social justice




Dear All,

please see info about next week's events in Canberra

new website and campaign video



Petition to stop vote in Parliament next week

Dear friends, supporters and partners,

The Stand For Freedom campaign is ready to spread like wildfire, and we need your support.

Challenging the extension of the NT Intervention for 10 more years under the Stronger Futures legislation.

Please send out widely to your networks.

We have just heard that the legislation, despite intense community and civil society opposition, is being put to the vote in Parliament next week.

This is before the Senate Inquiry has a chance to submit its report on the legislation on 13th March.

The Government clearly wants to rush this through before the nation gets a wind of what they're up to.
In the same way the NT Intervention got passed.

We need to act NOW.

Every time the petition is signed, a personal email is sent to the Ministers.

Together, we can stop this racist legislation in its tracks.

Thank you for your help spreading the campaign far and wide.

In solidarity,
Damien & Sinem

OUR GENERATION - Land, Culture, Freedom
phone: (+61) 0424 722 705 / (+61) 0420 400 284


New websites about the Stronger Futures legislation

Dear All,

Please note that as of last Friday evening (17 Feb) the websites to obtain information about the Stronger Futures legislation extending key NT Intervention measures for another decade as well as to view the submissions, appear no longer to be at


Instead I have found this morning (20 Feb)that the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011 and two related bills – Index site is now at

Direct link to view all uploaded submissions

Direct link to view all uploaded hearing info

on this site it states

Please note the audio of the public hearings will be streamed live.

However, when I clicked on the “streamed live” link this morning only “this page cannot be found” came up

And the link under “For more information, please call the Community Affairs secretariat on the numbers below or check the website: “

seems to no longer be working, instead you may wish to check out the Senate Committees weblink

Transcripts from recorded consultations can be found at:


Sabine Kacha



Qld unions asked for input on submission

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) has asked all union secretaries and the QCU Indigenous Working Committee for input from affiliates, particularly on the proposed income management scheme being extended to all members of communities in Rockhampton and Logan. Although the formal deadline for submissions has passed, the QCU has been invited to provide feedback to the Senate, by the week of 20 February 2012.

The QCU is especially concerned about the possible effects this bill poses on welfare recipient’s ability to transition from welfare to work. As there is a very limited timeframe to put the submissions together receipt of affiliates responses and input by Monday 20 February 2012 would be most appreciated.

Please contact Gwen Taylor, or 3846 2468, for any further information.


General Secretary

Family forever carrying the mark of the government beast

By Toni

The legislation is discriminatory and divisive for all those people who choose to live in the Australian Government designated priority areas. The children will be further disadvantaged by government on the basis that their parents will be subjected to punitive measures. The entitlement dollar will be ceased if their parents fail to meet the so called "special measures". Generally anyone can report on families who they consider are not doing the right thing. This action can and will provide considerable power to the lowest common denominator who can now exercise what they consider their right to act accordingly. They now have right of passage to do what they want and how they want without consideration of due process and moral regard. Public servants such as housing administrators, teachers, health professionals etc can report and make recommendations on the way in which parents live and nurture their children. This can trigger the mark of the government beast and the family are forever held by the beast. For instance the income management process will follow the family from the designated priority area to any place that they choose to live outside the designated area. It is only the Secretary that can remove this mark from the family and the family have to apply to have it removed even if they find employment. A marked family who seeks their entitlement at intervening periods of hardship ie no employment will always carry the mark of the government beast. This means that the mark of the government beast is intergenerational and is driven by technology and on this basis it has no boundaries and can and will be used as a statistical weapon on future generations. The unions in representing the interests of these families on designated priority areas should argue strongly on the basis that the amendments to the bill are unethical and it contravenes the privacy of individuals without gaining consent and gaining consent through punitive measures is not democratic nor the Australian way.